Cambodian school built to remember the way Rudi lived his life
By Grace Macaskill

THE family of a young Scot stabbed to death on a round-theworld trip have built a new school for the Cambodian street children who touched his heart.

Rudi Boa, 28, was killed in Australia in front of girlfriend Gillian Brown after a row with a fellow backpacker over the existence of God.

Killer Alexander York faces up to 25 years behind bars after being convicted of manslaughter last month.

Rudi’s family yesterday revealed a school in his name has been set up in the slums of Phnom Penh, where he and Gillian visited before travelling to Oz.

Rudi’s parents Elizabeth and Richard told how they embarked on the project to remember the way their son lived – not how he died.

Elizabeth, 58, of Culduthel, Inverness, said: "Rudi would have been so happy at what has been achieved in his name.

"He and Gillian were really touched by the plight of the children when they visited a school in Aziza, Phnom Penh.

"Rudi called me that night and said he was going to sponsor one of the kids and asked if we would do the same.

"He and Gillian had taken about 20 children out for the day and were amazed at how resilient they were.

"They were only in Cambodia for a short time but it had a profound effect on them. We thought this was the perfect way to commemorate his life."

Rudi’s family asked mourners at his funeral to donate cash to the charity Village Earth and were amazed when the total topped £5000.

The money has been used to build and equip the Rudi Boa school, built on stilts over a lake. It educates up to 100 street children, mostly of primary school age.

Rudi and Gillian, 30, met at university and gave up medical research jobs to go travelling.

They travelled widely in south east

Asia before arriving in Australia in December 2005.

The couple, who were working as fruit-pickers in Tumut 250 miles south west of Sydney, had only been in Oz for a few weeks when they met York, of Essex, in a bar.

The two men started a conversation about religion which became heated when they returned to the Blowering Holiday park campsite where they were all staying.

York later confronted the couple and Rudi was stabbed in the lung. He died in horrified Gillian’s arms. A jury believed York’s claim he acted in self-defence and accepted his denial of murder.

Rudi’s parents, who travelled to Australia for York’s trial, will not return to see him sentenced.

Castle groundsman Richard, 56, said: "Our daughter Debbie will be there and so will all of Rudi’s friends, who have been amazingly supportive throughout this ordeal.

"No matter what happens it is never going to bring back our son."

Science graduate Gillian, who works at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, returned home on Monday after seeing York convicted.

Her sister Alison said: "Gillian is still very upset by what has happened but she is pleased that something positive has come out of Rudi’s death.

"We and Rudi’s family intend to celebrate occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries by donating to the new school."

Thich Nhat Hanh, Village Earth’s representative in Cambodia, has updated family and friends about the centre on the charity’s website.

He said: "Rudi and Gillian came to Cambodia as backpackers at Christmas 2005 and volunteered to help children in the same slum as the schoolhouse.

"Rudi’s family wanted something good to come from his passing and proposed another new school.

"There are countless children in the neighbourhood and classes were instantly filled with 40 children each.

"We thank all the donors for planting the seed that is still growing."

To check on the progress of the school or find out how to make a donation, log on to

‘Rudi would be so happy at what has been achieved in his name’

Mum Elizabeth


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