Safari trek is more than just a visit

Todmorden High School students and staff prepare to set off on a ten-day trip to Kenya
Todmorden High School students and staff prepare to set off on a ten-day trip to Kenya

A PARTY of 18 sixth form students and staff won’t just have a life-changing experience on safari in Africa - they will also be looking to improve other people’s lives too.

On Monday the party set out for Kenya, where they will not only be spotting the country’s majestic animals but also renewing friendships with a school there.

Since the school began running safari treks 15 years ago, they have built up a relationship with a Kenyan school and an orphanage and take extra supplies with them to help the organisations.

This year they have undertaken extra fundraising events to raise money to buy lots of extra stationery for them, in addition to taking out a selection of football shirts for the youngsters, says Mike Kershaw, one of the three staff leading the trip.

“We will be travelling around different parts of Kenya and this time we have particularly collecting lots of things to take to the school and community there, including football shirts and stationery. We are hoping to take around 5kg per student for the school,” he said.

Mike said visiting school parties can make a difference - the last time Todmorden High were there the school had no water services. “When we got back we looked at getting it for them and we understand the school now has water and we are looking forward to going back and seeing they have got something we all rely on,” said Mike.

The school last went to Kenya in 2009 and the 2012 party will return home on February 22. They will visit national parks including Samburu and will visit the Masi tribe in the Masai Mara.

Past visits have taken in places like Treetops, where the then Princess Elizabeth found out her father, King George VI, had died and she was to become Queen.

Although it is likely the school will continue to fundraise for and then go out to Africa, for Mike personally it will be his last trip to Kenya having been at the helm for a decade and a half of the trips since the first in 1997. Each has been an experience the students concerned will never forget.

“In that time we have taken nearly 200 students from Todmorden out to Kenya for what has been a life-changing experience,” he said.