Indian villagers hail Chepstow's 'King Bazza' who helped build their homes
10:40am Friday 8th March 2013 in News
KINGPIN: Barry Watson stands with villagers in the Indian village named after him Barrypuram. Pic by Oggi Tomic
VERY few people know Chepstow is home to a king – of sorts.
His name is Barry Watson, or ‘King Bazza’, a lofty title given to him by the Yanadi tribe, from Andhra Pradesh, India, who have named a new village after him – Barrypuram.
It speaks volumes for his charity work, as the dad-of-four, who runs social media company Let Us Be Social, rescued villagers from life on a rubbish tip.
He paid £20,000 for land for farmers to construct 31 huts with lighting, install water pumps, a chicken farm, a school and church.
He said: “I love my name King Bazza. I wanted to give them a better life without the trappings of Western civilisation, keeping their own cultures.
On the tip, they had nothing, their life expectancy was only about 40.”
The project began by chance, when ex-insurance broker Mr Watson met Julie Davies, who runs her own Indian village support charity in memory of her 16-year-old daughter, called the Elizabeth-Ann charity, at a meeting.
The 60-year-old was inspired by them, so he travelled with the Davies family overseas to see how he could help.
As the entrepreneur felt they were doing an amazing job in Burlavaripalem, he discovered another sector of the community, the Yanadi tribe, could benefit from similar work.
Mr Watson founded his charity, Help the Village, in 2009, a branch of the Elizabeth-Ann charity, and raised funds partly from a trip in Mini cars to France the year after.
Since then, the dad to twins Kate and Zola, 29, Zak, 23 and Luke, 19, has achieved notable milestones in building the village.
Two months ago, Mr Watson and 15 others flew to Chennai and rode on rickshaws to Barrypuram, raising £10,000 for locals.
The Chepstow businessman now aims to make it self-sustainable, training 16 women to sew for work and making the buildings more permanent out of stone.
He said: “India’s like Marmite, you love it or hate it. I love the chaos, it’s totally different to anything else I’ve done. Once it’s in your blood, you have to go back.”