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Coronavirus: Jet-setting Northern Ireland tutor to the super-rich is now raising funds for nursing homes

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Valerie Westfield at the All-Ireland Polo Club

Valerie Westfield at the All-Ireland Polo Club

Valerie Westfield in Dubai during her time working for the Saudi royal family

Valerie Westfield in Dubai during her time working for the Saudi royal family

Lesley Waugh

Lesley Waugh

Valerie Westfield at the All-Ireland Polo Club

A Northern Ireland teacher who travels the world to tutor children of the super-rich is raising funds for local care homes, which she believes have been overlooked during the pandemic.

Valerie Westfield (57) from Lisburn is one of two neighbours behind a JustGiving initiative being run by Hillsborough Village Centre.

She and co-fundraiser Lesley Waugh (62) hope to raise £5,000, which they said will be divided between six local care homes and their staff.

"Care home staff are so important and we want to show our appreciation for them," Valerie said. "All of us will probably experience care homes at some point in the future.

"Maybe we or someone we know will end up living in one and we'll want a nice nurse and care staff to look after us.

"There are lots of families all over Northern Ireland with elderly parents who may be in care homes, or who may need to go into one at some point, and that's why Lesley and I wanted to raise awareness about this important issue."

High-flying tutor Valerie, who has found herself grounded during lockdown, said she is looking forward to her next assignment, whatever that may be, in some far-flung and exotic location as she resumes her normal role of educating the children of the well-to-do.

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Valerie Westfield in Dubai during her time working for the Saudi royal family

Valerie Westfield in Dubai during her time working for the Saudi royal family

Valerie Westfield in Dubai during her time working for the Saudi royal family

"It's still amazing to be able to do the type of work I do, and I know I am very lucky," said Valerie, who, along with Lesley, has contributed to her own fundraising drive.

"Of course I haven't been away very much for work recently because of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown that's been imposed around the world.

"I also came home to look after my 88-year-old father, so I don't like to accept any lengthy stints away now.

"I just take short-term tutoring assignments around the world."

While the jet-setting educator is still working, her location is perhaps a little less glamorous than before.

It is a far cry from her usual habitat - in the not too distant past she has been flown to Switzerland, Morocco, Dubai, Greece, France and Saudi Arabia in order to teach. And she has taught on yachts as well as mid-flight, in chauffeur-driven cars and beside luxury pools.

Lesley Waugh

"I'm still doing tutoring online but it's not the same as sitting on a yacht in Monaco," she said, adding that she has been teaching "some first year medical students" online.

"I've also been teaching in Northern Ireland all along and will continue to do so."

Valerie, who gained many years' experience as a teacher in north Wales before returning home to help care for her elderly father, switched to tutoring the rich and royalty in 2017.

But now, while she has got a little more time on her hands due to the pandemic, she wants to promote this worthy cause.

Lesley, a former social worker and recently retired NHS manager, said they would like to make a difference, however small.

To support the fundraiser click here.

Belfast Telegraph