Scouts raise cash for an African adventure

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A DETERMINED scout troop is kick-starting a fund-raising campaign to help it embark on an epic trip across the globe to help a poor and deprived community.

Members are urging people to support them in their quest for cash.

Members of the 1st Whittingham BP Scout Group have set their sights on crucial missionary work in poverty-ridden Lesotho.

Seventeen scouts, seniors and leaders are hoping to make the trip to Africa in August next year.

Once there, they will stay in the village of Malealea and plant trees and teach valuable skills to help improve the life of its under-privileged inhabitants.

But to embark on their environmental expedition, they need to raise a whopping £30,000.

So they are holding a series of fund-raising events, starting with a Christmas Fair this Saturday, and hope that members of the public will donate to the cause.

Group scout master, Ninette Gray, said: “Lesotho suffers from deforestation and the people rely on timber to make fires to heat their round houses and cook on.

“Temperatures plummet to -18 degrees in their winter, and the women in Malealea now have to walk four hours every four days to get to the closest source of wood.

“To compound the situation, the families suffer from smoke-related illnesses due to the green wood they use, and the open fires.

“We will plant trees around the village, introduce to them a revolutionary smokeless, efficient stove, which will use far less wood and retain clean air in the homes, and we will also teach the local people how to coppice the trees and look after them sustainably.”

Ninette said the visit will be an opportunity for the scouts to understand ‘apartheid and the cultural differences’ in Southern Africa, learn about global warming, deforestation and using the earth’s resources wisely, as well as boosting their self-confidence and broadening their horizons.

She added: “They will also learn new skills which we will compare to local skills so that they gain an interest in working with local organisations such as the National Park, Forestry Commission and local quarries.

“We have arranged for the scouts to visit AJ Scott’s Woodyard and Harden Quarry to help them understand how we can work in harmony with our environment, and use our natural resources.”

The fund-raising campaign begins in earnest on Saturday with the troop’s Christmas fair, in Alnwick, at the Northumberland Hall.

The fair runs from 10.30am to 3.30pm and will feature craft and food stalls, Santa’s grotto and refreshments including soup, raffle and tombola.

Entry is free, but donations are welcome.

A visit to Santa’s grotto is £2 and there will be information about the expedition.

A number of local businesses have generously supported the event and more than 20 raffle prizes, including wine, vouchers and outdoor gear, have been donated.

Next year, the fund-raising quest will see the scouts bag-packing, tackling a 20K winter challenge over 12 peaks in the Cheviots and running a charity shop in Wooler in the first week of April.

To donate to the group’s target, visit www.1stwhittingham.org.uk or call Ninette on 01665 574733.