A school project in Africa supported by a Banbury business and rotarian has been officially opened.
Alan Wolstencroft runs Fashion Fabrics in Parsons Street but has also raised nearly £200,000 towards projects in Sierra Leone, with the latest being the Good News Community School in the Waterloo district of the country’s capital Freetown.
Mr Wolstencroft first visited the community in January 2013 but due to ongoing commitments at the three other Schools he supports he was not able to offer immediate support.
When he re-visited the school during a trip in June last year, he was able to approve the costings for the project but said it would be 2016 before he would be in a position to fund the new building.
Mr Wolstencroft said: “There were about 100 children, aged four to 11 attending classes in a small church hall – there are no room dividers, not enough benches and desks and the children are tightly squeezed into the area.
“There are three classes held at the same time, in the same area so it is very noisy and therefore it is not an ideal learning environment. The children had access to a toilet which is the worst I have seen during any of my nine visits.”
After speaking with Shaun Jardine, chief executive officer at Brethertons Solicitors in Banbury, about his work in Sierra Leone, Mr Wolstencroft was then invited to meet the Corporate Social Responsibility Team to explain to them more about is voluntary work.
And as a result of this meeting, Brethertons agreed to partner with Mr Wolstencroft as the main sponsor in order to build two classrooms and a toilet block on a site that had been gifted to the school.
In December 2015, Mr Wolstencroft sent the first instalment of money so work on building two new classrooms could begin.
He added: “Everything on site is done manually, including making all the concrete blocks, but despite this just eight weeks later the building was completed.
“The next phase was making all the desk and bench sets for the classrooms and the final phase was to build a four cubicle toilet block, but with no mains water it is situated over a “long drop” pit.
“The pit is 17 feet x 7 feet and is 12 feet deep! It has all been dug manually by six guys using just picks and shovels and a bucket and rope system for getting the spoil clear of the pit.
“It is estimated that they have moved, by hand, approximately 60 tonnes of soil/rock, the equivalent of ten standard builders skips in the UK, this is everyday life for a builder in Sierra Leone.”
So far Mr Wolstencroft has delivered more than 310 talks to different organisations in the area, which have raised more than £70,000 of his total amount.
For more information about his projects in Sierra Leone or to arrange a talk, email Mr Wolstencroft on firstname.lastname@example.org