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29 October 2014
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Heather recounts a terrifying ordeal
Heather with travelling friends in Nepal
Heather - two days before the attack

York student Heather was travelling in Nepal when she was mugged by two men in face masks.

"All I could see in my head was the Rainbow Foundation's video" admits Heather.

 Caroline's Rainbow Foundation
 Safety video: 'Time of Your Life'
 Caroline Stuttle
 Student describes how video helped keep her safe
 The loss of a close friend
 Why I continued travelling
Caroline's Rainbow Foundation
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A student has revealed that the safety film 'Time of Your Life' launched by Caroline's Rainbow Foundation and BBC Radio York may have helped her escape unharmed from an armed attack whilst backpacking in Nepal.

» Read more about the safety video and charity

Heather Rodgers was one of the first people ever to see the video, which has been made following the murder in Australia of York backpacker Caroline Stuttle.

» Read more about the Caroline Stuttle

Heather says the video’s messages helped her cope when she was confronted by armed robbers the Himalayas. Read her own account of the attack:

" The trip to Nepal was something we'd been planning for nearly a year. Myself and three friends had booked a ten day trek around the Annapurnas in the Himalayas, followed by five weeks in India.

The trip was exactly what we needed. We'd just finished our exams and felt revived amongst the wonderful scenery and mountain air. Although the air grew a bit thin at the top, we made it over the Thorong La Pass at 5416m with only mild mountain sickness, and no sign of the Maoist rebels.

The trek ended in Pokhora, Nepal's second city. We spent the first day relaxing, shopping and getting our clothes washed! before having a farewell dinner with our guide.

The day our guides left, we set off at 8am to walk up the "beautiful forest trail," as described by our guide book, to the world peace pagoda. With beautiful views of Pokhora, the lake and the Himalayas, it seemed like a necessary visit.

Heather with travelling companions
Heather (centre) pictured with travelling friends 2 weeks after the attack

We'd been walking up the wooded trail for about 30 minutes when we discovered we were sharing the path with hundreds of leeches. Walking quicker to get out of the trees and away from the leeches, I failed to notice two Nepalese men on the path above us.

They were in their twenties and wearing bandanas and face masks. They came down the path towards us and asked for money. This is common in Nepal and India, so we gave our usual reply that we didn't have any. Then one guy pulled out a baton, and we started to feel uneasy - made much worse when his companion brandished a knife.

The one guy in our group was at the back, and nearly knocked me over as he pushed past me, I had no idea what he was doing, but at that point two more men came up the path below us, also with knives.

Now we really started to panic. They demanded our bags and ripped them open to go through the contents. They took our cameras, money and wallets. One of my friends begged them to leave our passports, which luckily for us they did. They threw the rest of our stuff on the floor, brandished the knives again and took off down the path.

By this point the other two girls were in tears. We scrabbled around on the floor picking up our stuff and headed up the path as quickly as we could. We were terrified and just wanted to get out of there. But we couldn't go down, as that was where the muggers had gone. So we continued up and fortunately found another path down.

Now we had time to for it all to sink in. Whilst I was particularly upset having lost a nearly full memory card in my camera, all I could see in my head was the Rainbow Foundation's video where the two lads get stabbed. I kept thinking, "that could have been us."

This was when my friend confessed that he had been trying to be the gentleman and protect the three girls by standing in front of them. It hadn't occurred to him that he was a foot taller than the attackers and so would appear aggressive - maybe if he'd seen the video he would have realised this.

In the end we were all ok, and still managed to have a wonderful time on the rest of the trip. It wouldn't stop me travelling again, but it has made me much more aware of safety. "

Heather Rodgers

More on the Caroline's Rainbow Foundation
 Safety video 'Time of Your Life'
 Student describes how video helped keep her safe
 Caroline Stuttle
 The loss of a close friend
 Why I continued travelling
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