War orphan says thank you to Leamington aid workers who saved his life 39 years ago

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Nearly forty years ago, Van Lambie-Nairn was an orphaned toddler, trapped in a war-torn country.

But the intervention of aid workers in Leamington saved his life.

And now Van has found a way to deliver a personal message of thanks to the town.

It was the Rev Pat Ashe that spearheaded Project Vietnam Orphan from St Mary’s Church in Leamington, which led to a new way to offer aid in countries suffering from conflict.

The Daily Mail joined the charity’s appeal and paid for a Boeing 747, complete with doctors and nurses, to make the 18-hour journey to the war-torn country.

Van was one of 99 orphans who were rescued in April 1975.

Horrified at the condition of the children, the medical team were on hand to tend to them on board and take them to their new life in the UK.

Project Vietnam Orphan has since changed its name to Cord and has become an international peacebuilding organisation based in Leamington.

Angie Archer was one of the original workers who helped the orphans find new homes - and she still works for the charity today.

Van himself was adopted but had to face 15 years of surgery.

Now he is in a good health - and says he wants to say thank you to the Leamington team that saved his life. He will be raising money for Cord when he runs the London Marathon this month.

No one is completely sure of Van’s actual age but it’s believed he is ‘about 40’.

He said he realises how lucky he is, adding: “If I had still been in Vietnam, it’s unlikely that by my thirtieth birthday I would have been able to walk or work.

“I was always aware that I was special in some way. I mean, I looked very different from my parents, although that was never an issue. It’s always been a wonderful story to tell.”

He won a marathon place in a ballot, adding: “I run a lot and it’s always been half marathons up until now.

“I’ve spent the last few months training to qualify as a personal trainer, too, as I always seem to spend my time encouraging other athletes in their endeavours.”

A team from Leamington will go down to London to cheer him on.

If you would like to sponsor Van visit www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/VanLambieNairn

To find out more about Cord visit www.cord.org.uk