John Sherwood


John a Student Mental Health Nurse,  has recently completed a 6 week placement in the Mental Health Department at Kandy Teaching Hospital in Sri Lanka as part of his final year.  During his last week he set about organising a fund raising event with the aim of providing some basic provisions for the patients in Ward 40, he produced a one time blog  for his circle of friends back in the UK to enlist their help.  With his permission we have reproduced his blog below which is inspiring.  John is the son of great-great grandson of Mary Tinneny of Goladuff.


Kandy Teaching Hospital in Sri Lanka

The goal:

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As some of you may know I have been fortunate to travel and work in a foreign hospital as part of my nursing studies. That hospital is Kandy Teaching Hospital in Sri Lanka and I’ve been a student in the Mental Health Department for 6 weeks.

So whats the plan? I have a week left, I’ve spent a lot of time between wards 39 and 40 which are hugely crowded psychiatric wards for males and females of all ages and diagnosis. As a parting donation, inspired perhaps by the Buddhist culture and the things I’ve seen, I want to leave the wards a little bit brighter than when I came. I’m going to invest 100 of my own money into some basic provisions which back home we would take for granted. Things like a radio, a subscription to a news paper and some therapeutic odds and ends such as badminton rackets and volley balls.

Patients on Ward 40

So what? Well looking back on my time its been a bitter sweet journey and one of the best and hardest parts of my training so far. I have literally laughed and cried at things which have made me consider how fortunate we are in the UK to have an ever developing Mental Health system and how equally fortunate I am to be part of it. I want to share a small part of this experience with the people I know by raising another 100 pounds to double my donation. Part of which I also plan to donate to a newly emerged Volunteer Foundation, who once a month do some brilliant work on the wards. These mostly retired volunteers, off of their own backs organise music and food for the patients and are planning to increase their schedule.

John (2nd from the right) with some of the Volunteers

Volunteers performing music/singing

200 doesn’t sound like a lot and quite frankly I’ve been guilty of wasting that kind of money on rubbish in my life over the years. Surprisingly It will go a long way in Sri Lankan Rupees. If it makes a few patients happier and a few nurses jobs easier then theres got to be good karma in that.

I hope 10 of my friends (ideally in the UK) will be inspired by this, to chip in a tenner (and postage) so that I can double my efforts in giving back to the wards. The best bit is, I will send you a hand made rug from the patients which you could maybe use in your bathroom, as a door mat or to balance a tea pot on. They are resourcefully simple in design, vary in colour/material and have been meticulously crafted by some lovely people at a hard time in their lives.

Patients in the Day Centre busy creating Rugs

If you would like to help, drop me a message on Facebook and we can arrange the finer details. I will be buying 10 rugs from the Mental Health Day Centre and buying 100 of supplies in Kandy this week myself. Note that I’m not a charity (I’m a student nurse!), nor out to mug anyone… Its just something I want to do and a small way of doing some good.

Half Way!

Thanks to an overwhelming response the original target of 200 was blown out of the water. It stands closer to 500 at the minute with the donations still coming in.

So first thing after shift on Monday me and Ward Master Rohan headed out to pick up supplies. We’ve invested in a lot of agricultural equipment; spades, hoes, rakes and shovels to kick off a spot of land that had previously been used by patients to grow produce but lacked funding in recent times. The plan being that when they grow fruit and veg, it gets sold at market and reinvested into the ward. Bonus. Then we got ahold of the sports supplies of badminton, cricket, volleyball and ping pong equipment etc.

When I showed up today (Tuesday) the patients and staff were already crafting handles for the new equipment and using the sports stuff! I didn’t expect it to pick up this quickly but it has.

Patients and Staff  in the process of crafting handles for new equipment.

So again after shift I went on the back of Veejays bike to sort out the newspaper subscriptions. A simple enough task which seems to have stirred some hearts. The national news paper are now coming down tomorrow to cover the ward and the donations. This alone is worth everyones donations! It raises awareness of Mental Health in Sri Lanka on a national level. I can’t wait.








Thanks again everyone. More to follow!      


Mission Accomplished!

The donations are in! The work has begun. A whole heap of stuff has been acquired and will continue to be bought for the wards.

In total the donations reached 665 which along with some bank charges and ridiculously inflated numbers equates to around 145,293.86 Sri Lankan Rupees. 

Initially on Monday we spent the first instalment on the sporting goods, agricultural tools, renovation supplies such as paint brushes and a boat load of silicon filler. We practically rebuilt the ward with that stuff…

Tuesday more of the same. Picking up the odds and ends we had forgotten and getting to grips with the equipment. Then me and Veejay (Staff Nurse) got on his motorbike and headed over to order a years subscription to the national newspaper for the wards. This somehow escalated into the paper wanting to write about us. More to follow when its published.

Wednesday we came up with a list of supplies needed for the day unit which will include occupational therapy tools to produce craft goods and some broken instruments for repair. I’ve left the money for this with them (Ward Master) so will hopefully update on this when I’m back in the UK.

List of necessary equipment needed. Receipt for supplies purchased. Sports Equipment Purchased.

Thursday was when the real work began. After filling in the holes, everyone, patients and staff alike (myself included) started to paint ward 40. Its a great improvement already and we got a lot done. Hopefully they will paint ward 39 next week in my absence.  To top the day Zam (Senior Nurse) drove me up to a rehab clinic in the mountains where I ran into a few familiar patients who had recently moved on. 


Repairing and painting walls.

Tomorrow is my last day! I’ll be sad to say goodbye but happy that this week has come together so well. I will be paying in the rest of the donation towards the Mental Health Foundation and Volunteers tomorrow (Would have done it today but it was a national holiday). After that.. a 6 hour Tuk Tuk ride to the beach.

Thanks again everyone who donated for all your support. We couldn’t have done this without you. The improvements to the ward are one thing but If we get published in the national newspaper and raise awareness for Mental Health in Sri Lanka then this is a truly amazing accomplishment. I look forward to catching up with you all after my trip and dishing out the 10 rugs to the people who got in early!


Photos and blog courtesy of John Sherwood



Copyright  R. Tinneny,  All Rights Reserved, 2002-2018