Banbury man raises about £350,000 to build schools in Sierra Leone

A man from Banbury has been raising money to build schools in Sierra Leone for almost 20 years and has influenced one to change its name to honour Banbury.
Alan Wolstencroft a member of Banbury Rotary Club since 2004, first went to Sierra Leone in 2005 as a volunteer member of a Rotary Club mission team.Alan Wolstencroft a member of Banbury Rotary Club since 2004, first went to Sierra Leone in 2005 as a volunteer member of a Rotary Club mission team.
Alan Wolstencroft a member of Banbury Rotary Club since 2004, first went to Sierra Leone in 2005 as a volunteer member of a Rotary Club mission team.

Alan Wolstencroft initially went over to help the building projects with the Banbury Rotary Club in 2005, thinking it would be a one-off experience but has since returned to the country a further 12 times, both with the club and by himself.

Through fundraising events and local sponsors, Alan has raised £342,800 and funded the construction of 39 new classrooms, nine toilet facilities, and water access across eight schools that often had no desks or toilets prior to Alan’s intervention and were teaching under trees.

His work has been so well appreciated in Sierra Leone that in 2016, one school renamed itself the Banbury International Community School in honour of his projects.

The charitable construction work has even extended to building a house for a disabled teenager and his carer, whom Alan had befriended on one of his trips.

He works alongside local tradesmen giving them the opportunity to earn money by building the schools and also to put money back into the economy.

The ten-day visits to Sierra Leone Alan has made over the many years are entirely funded by himself and a regular group of supporters to ensure all the charity money is spent on the construction of the school facilities.

Despite the huge amount of work already undertaken, Alan refuses to slow down and has made a start on a new project which will see a further two classrooms added to the Banbury International Community School.

The project has become Alan’s passion and he spends much of his time travelling the length of the country speaking to different Rotary Clubs or writing monthly newsletters about the school building work.

Alan said: “I went in 2005 believing it would be a one-off and some people may think I’m naive, but day after day we see images of poverty and ten minutes later we move on. Being there once and seeing the conditions they were living in changed me, I came home with a totally different perspective.

“I knew I couldn’t change the world, but I could change the world for some people out there, and that’s what I’ll continue to do while I can.”

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