Hartlepool school’s helping hand for Kenyan academy

AFRICA TALK: Kevin Curtis and Kerry Watson of Footprints Orphanage and Academy during a visit to Barnard Grove Primary School.

AFRICA TALK: Kevin Curtis and Kerry Watson of Footprints Orphanage and Academy during a visit to Barnard Grove Primary School.

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A PRIMARY school in Hartlepool is giving an educational boost to children from a Third World school 4,000 miles across the globe.

Hilary Timothy, parent support adviser at Barnard Grove Primary School, went to Kenya on holiday and visited an orphanage and school, called Footprints Academy, run by an English woman called Kerry Watson.

GRATEFUL: Youngsters at the Footprints Academy in Kenya.

GRATEFUL: Youngsters at the Footprints Academy in Kenya.

On her return, Hilary talked to staff and pupils at Barnard Grove about her African experiences and they all thought it would be a fantastic idea if they could try to help the Kenyan youngsters.

As Barnard Grove is having a new school built, Hilary came up with the idea of sending their old furniture and equipment to Footprints, which headteacher Lee Walker, staff and pupils thought was a great idea.

So now Barnard Grove, and representatives of Footprints, are on the look-out for any haulage-type firms which might be kind enough to help out with the move.

Hilary said: “The visit to the orphanage had a huge impact on me, and I am now a huge supporter.

While the challenge of taking up the offer of the resources that Barnard Grove no longer needs is huge, the difference they would make to our school and our children means that we have to try!

Kevin Curtis, trustee

“Alongside the orphanage, Kerry has opened a school for the local children and children from the surrounding villages.

“We are having a new school built at Barnard Grove, and I spoke to our headteacher and asked if Footprints could have first choice of any furniture or equipment that we will not be taking to the new build.

“I made Kerry aware of this and she was overwhelmed and came over from Kenya to have a look at what she could logistically get back there.”

She added: “Kerry spoke to all the children in a full school assembly and answered questions.

“Lots of really positive links have been made, and the children at Barnard Grove appreciated the differences with children’s lives in Africa and how much they value their education.

“Our children are arranging fundraising ideas to support these very deserving children.

“We were hoping that ideally, the publicity might help with the transport problems Kerry and her team are facing in getting the furniture back to Kenya.”

Footprints, in the Shimba Hills, opened to just five children in April 2010 after Kerry fundraised and gave up her full-time job in England to dedicate her life to the facility, which costs £80,000 a year to run.

Now it is home to 28 children, employs seven teachers, and educates 148 children from the orphanage and also youngsters from the nearby villages who live in mud huts.

Kevin Curtis, trustee of the charity based in England, said: “Kerry’s eyes opened wide when she saw the precious resources and educational furniture which were being offered to Footprints, if she could find a way of getting them over to Kenya.

“We have until the end of July, when the school closes its doors at the end of this academic year, to find a way of getting the items packed up and shipped to Kenya.

“While the challenge of taking up the offer of the resources that Barnard Grove no longer needs is huge, the difference they would make to our school and our children means that we have to try!”

He added: “We know it can be achieved using a shipping container, so we are appealing for help from a transport company to help us make it happen, or maybe a business might be willing to sponsor the project, helping us meet the costs of shipping the resources out from Hartlepool to Kenya.”

Any company or individual who could help should contact Kevin on 07860727575 or email kevin.footprints@yahoo.co.uk, or ring Hilary at Barnard Grove on (01429) 230300.