Sad passing of Nigel Harper of LUV+

29 July 2022
Nigel Harper

Nigel Harper, founder and Chief Executive of LUV+, very sadly died on 24th July. An asthmatic since childhood, he contracted Covid several months ago, and despite having recovered, his lungs were too badly damaged to survive a subsequent infection.

Nigel was a keen traveller, and for his year abroad, as a student of French, he avoided France and instead spent his time working at a leprosy mission in Senegal.

Thus began his lifelong interest in leprosy. It was during a trip to Malawi around 12 years ago, that he sought out the country’s last leprosy mission, in Utale, run by an inspirational priest Fr Francis Kachere.

The Augustine Church in Edinburgh, fundraised to bring Fr Kachere to Scotland, and Nigel arranged for him to speak at an SMP event. There he met SMP member Rose Mary Harley, and together they decided to set up a small charity, LUV+, to help the leprosy mission. The aim of LUV+ was to provide the lepers with a livelihood, through projects that were sustainable: maize mills, chicken rearing, vegetable gardens, oxen for ploughing etc.

But just as important was convincing the people in the surrounding villages that, through LUV+’s support of the mission, they were now experiencing an improvement to their daily lives. These villagers who had hitherto persecuted the members of the mission, would now pay them to have their maize milled. They also didn’t have to travel far for provisions, as LUV+ provided the leprosy mission with a small shop. LUV+ also paid for the villagers’ children to attend school.

Through the friendship and partnership between Nigel and Fr Kachere, the stigma of leprosy was challenged and the people of Utale had their dignity returned.

One of Nigel’s proudest moments was when the then President of Malawi, Joyce Banda, visited Utale and shook hands with those with leprosy in Utale. Nigel and Rose Mary had extended an invitation to the President to visit Utale while Joyce Banda was in Scotland for the David Livingstone bicentenary in 2013.

Nigel was without doubt the driving force behind LUV+ and for him it was a labour of love. As the years progressed, Scottish Government grants from their Small Grants Programme allowed the charity to expand into Tanzania and Zambia, making a greater positive impact on those affected by leprosy.

Nigel was a devoted husband to Enkhe and father to two daughters and a son.

SMP CEO, David Hope-Jones, said:

“Nigel will be sorely missed in the Scotland-Malawi community. Since 2009 he has been an active and valued member of the Scotland Malawi Partnership. It has been a great pleasure to have worked with Nigel over the last 13 years: he has already brought great energy, drive and integrity to his own links with Malawi and was a kind supporter of the wider bilateral relationship. I’m sure Fr Kachare, and all in Utale, will wish to join me in passing on condolences from all in the SMP to Nigel’s family. Nigel’s friendship, warmth and dedication will continue through the good work of Luv+.”

Nigel's family have kindly shared details of the funeral, which will be held on Monday the 15th August at the Polwarth Parish Church, Edinburgh, EH11 1LU. The funeral service starts at 1:30pm and lasts for 45 minutes. There will be tea, coffee and sandwiches after the service from 2:30pm to 4pm.

If you would like to join remotely via Zoom, please email to receive the link.

Family flowers only please, but donations to Nigel's charity LUV+, supporting people in Africa living with leprosy, would be welcome. There will be donation envelopes at the funeral, but alternatively you can donate directly to LUV+ using the below details:

  • Name: LUV Leprosy at Utale
  • Account number: 00173088
  • Sort Code: 83-18-28

Please email if you can make the funeral. Alternatively, please message Ulsbold on 0750 1919 392 or Enkhe on 077717 40417 to let the family know you can attend.