BURTON Albion Football Club is joining forces with members of the community to help deprived youngsters in Africa on a 10-day trip to Ghana. Deb Holland, assistant head teacher at The Pingle School, Swadlincote will be joining the Burton Albion Community Trust staff and other members of the local community on the visit. With only five months until the team set off on the adventure, reporter ROB SMYTH spoke to Deb as she reflected on the journey so far, and looks at some of the fund-raising activities that the group are still to do before they finally set off on the adventure of a lifetime.
I first heard that Burton Albion Community Trust had teamed up with African Adventures to offer members of the local community the opportunity to go on a 10-day visit to Ghana during my summer holiday in Spain. I’d been sitting on a sunbed for about a week when one of the many tweets coming from the trust caught my attention. After a few emails to Andy Taylor, community manager at the trust, and others with Viv Sharples, acting head teacher at Pingle, I was signed up.
This might sound a little easier than it actually was. I’m sure many working mothers will empathise with my situation here. I work full-time in a demanding job that I love, and have two small children who are equally demanding.
It is quite a few years since I really did something that didn’t fit in to my role as mother or teacher. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not complaining, but my decision to go to Ghana still fills me with mixed emotions. On the one hand excitement, and on the other worry that I’m being selfish going, and at the same time knowing I’m going to miss my kids.
But I think the overriding thought is, if my own children see boring old mum doing something like this and the children at Pingle see boring old ‘miss’ doing something different, then they all might just think that if she can do this, then anything is possible for them.
The months since signing up for the visit have been . . . well, it’s difficult to describe really. Certainly unusual, at times exhilarating, but overall a little bit weird.
Each member of the team needs to raise £2,500 to fund the visit. This money goes towards the cost of the trip to Ghana but also provides funds for Burton Albion Community Trust for the programmes it provides across the Burton area.
Part of the £2,500 is usually raised through sponsorship of the shirts the participants wear and the flags that are taken on the visit. Once some of this sponsorship started to come in, one of the next steps on the journey was to publicise the sponsors and hopefully help attract other local organisations to support the venture. Cue me interviewing Burton Albion manager and former professional footballer Gary Rowett, who offered a thoroughly interesting insight in to the world of football management as told by a real-life football manager.
One of the next fund-raisers was a climb of Snowdon. The weather that late October day made what I’m sure is a fairly straightforward walk up a beautiful mountain a battering by the elements. I was genuinely pleased with myself for reaching the top. It was an exhilarating experience that I had been determined to complete.
Following the interview with Gary Rowett, my interview series continued with Rory Delap, former Premier League star and international footballer.
As the trust and the volunteers worked hard to secure sponsorship for the visit, many local organisations offered their support.
My own sponsor, Rawman Consulting Ltd, and managing director Chris Manning, told me about his business and the motivation for supporting us in another of my interview series. Other partners of the trust such as Staffordshire FA, Staffordshire Cricket, Pirelli and Burton Albion FC all offered support.
The last five months have been eventful, full of new experiences. The next five look set to be equally as action-packed.
Schools in Burton and Swadlincote are to have a Ghana week. During this week Pingle School will have a non-uniform day to help the trust raise those vital funds.
In February there is a comedy and cuisine night, hosted at the Pirelli Stadium, to help raise further funds for the visit.
Many of the team members are in training so they can take part in the Derby 10K in April. We are hoping to be joined by as many of our sponsors, supporters, friends and colleagues as possible to make this a huge team event.
With five months of the adventure gone already I’ve had so many memorable experiences. I have met some wonderful people who I am looking forward to sharing this trip of a lifetime with.
We still have another five exciting months ahead of us . . . and then the real adventure will begin.