PEOPLE living in Indian villages practically washed away by last year's devastating tsunami will soon be receiving treatment at a medical centre named after St Albans.

Building work is poised to start on the project which is the brainchild of a group of St Albans residents who raised almost £30,000 at a charity ball in March.

Paul and Nadine Gibbon of Battlefield Road, together with fellow organisers Jez and Kerry Day and Bob and Inez Rosen, have spent the intervening period narrowing down a series of charitable projects before deciding on the St Albans Medical Centre in the Cuddalore district of south-east India.

Paul said: "One of the people we met was a lady called Lorraine Page who was a Macmillan nurse on secondment in Cuddalore when the tsunami hit.

"She became so involved with the community and the relief effort there and her work took on a new direction.

"When she gave us her presentation about what's needed in the area we knew it was the right project for us becaue she was so down to earth and passionate.

"We had several really slick presentations from larger organisations but they already have some major backing.

"We were just really taken with Lorraine's grassroots' approach."

The money raised from the ball will cover the building costs and pay for a team of health workers and a doctor for at least three years.

Nadine explained that once the initial money runs out further events will be planned to ensure that the centre is a permanent one.

She added: "This is just phase one and we will do what it takes to keep the centre up and running.

"The ball may well become a bi-annual event so we can keep the fund topped up.

"We don't intend this to be a one-off and we're not going to just walk away after three years."

About 250 people were killed in Cuddalore while thousands more were injured or made homeless by the Boxing Day tsunami and relief efforts are still being hampered by ongoing flooding in the district.

Dozens of families in the area are still living in temporary accommodation.

The medical centre is expected to serve 28 villages when it opens.

* If you would like to donate money for the St Albans Medical Centre, e-mail Paul at