The Kingswood School Trip. February 2010.

Twelve Year 13 students from The Kingswood School, Corby and their Headteacher David Tristram accompanied Andrew and Anne Butler to The Gambia in February 2010. This was a joint school and charity venture. During their stay the group made a number of cultural visits including spending 3 days in Penyem.

The students were received in Penyem by the children and villagers with the usual fantastic welcome including drumming and dancing. One of the main reasons for the trip was to set up The Penyem Football Academy. This included the organisation of a football resource room and the instalation of a satellite TV system. This room would allow villagers and others to read football coaching books and to watch football matches on the two large TVs. After the successful installation the villagers told us that over 200 people had watched 4 football matches. They had paid 5 delasis each. These fees had more than covered the cost of the fuel for the brand new generator which was an additional purchase. It is hoped that if managed correctly the TV system would provide a regular income for the village. Previously, people used to walk to the nearest town, Brikama, to watch matches.
Each Kingswood student had sponsored a Penyem child's education for the year leading up to the trip. They met their child in the school and then went off to visit their families. This was a magical part of the week, which was difficult for the students, but they managed it brilliantly!
Later on that day, the Penyem Football Academy was launched with a mass coaching session on the village football pitch. This was chaos! It seemed that every child from the village was there.
The afternoon ended with a special challenge football match - The Kingswood School verses Penyem Under 14 team. This short match in very hot conditions finished in a 2-2 draw! The match was great fun for all, including the spectators. At the end there was an exchange of shirts - well we gave them ours, followed by an exhibition match by two other village teams. Eventually, the group of exhausted students loaded up the Land Rovers and headed back to our hotel, to complete probably the best day of their lives!

On the 3rd and final day in Penyem, we visited Busura Primary School where most of the Penyem children go to school after Penyem school. We were made so welcome. We visited every class and were sung to each time we entered the classroom! The children also put on a drama production for us at the end of the visit.

Indirectly, Busura is supported by NTF. All the Penyem children are equipped with pens, pencils etc. from NTF donations. The school is desperately seeking a sponsor. It is our hope that we can introduce another UK school or schools
to twin with Busura Primary School. If you can help - please get in touch!

We completed our visits that day with a short tour of Penyem Upper Basic School, which is just outside Penyem. This is the next school after Primary School. Again they are desperate for educational materials and furniture.

And so, it was time to leave Penyem. We said our final farewells. During a short thankyou speech to the villagers David Tristram (Kingswood Headteacher) announced that The Kingswood School would be attempting to fund a large container of furniture, tools and materials to arrive in Penyem later this year. This will be known as The Red Chair Project. Anyone who would like to help with this project should call David on 01536 741857.

Andrew and Anne Butler also made the announcement that the annual £500 donation to the village would be available from April. Furthermore, the charity would guarantee the funding of the new village medical worker/nurse for a second year in 2011.

To finish we would like to express our special thanks to the following: Chief Kolley for his tireless efforts in ensuring this visit would be a success. Dan Nyang for his excellent organisation for us in The Gambia and his attention all week. Also thanks to Mustapha Camara and Andrew Gomez.
We would also like to thank Thomas Cook Airlines for allowing us the luxury of double baggage allowance, without which we could not have achieved such success!