Final boost needed for African school

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A Clifford resident who has spent 15 years raising money to help build a school in Africa wants a final fundraising push to complete the project.

Retired headteacher Joan Dyer, 79, a member of Boston Spa Methodist Church, needs the final injection of cash for the almost-completed Longman Memorial school in Brikrama, The Gambia.

The school, which will educate both Christian and Muslim children, will cater for more than 900 students once completed.

Committed Christian Joan first visited the African country in 1999 with her late husband Allan on a trip to see how palm crosses were made.

The poverty Joan saw on her first trip, which she described as “horrendous” made the Clifford resident want to help those in the education system have a better quality of life.

She said: “We met with the reverend who had thanked me for the interest in the palm crosses and he took us round his circuit.

“We were pleased to sit with the children as they made the crosses but were sad to see the poverty.

“We also visited a clinic and a school in Marakissa and saw that they had very little equipment.”

The school has been built from a barren piece of land and currently houses around 700 African children.

After vowing to help, Joan who was then President of York and Hull District Network - decided to use the school as her overseas project for the network.

After 14 years and with fundraising events all across Yorkshire, Joan has now raised more than £60,000 for the school - which educates boys and girls aged three to 13 years.

The project now needs just £2,500 for the final four classrooms before the school is complete and will cater for 200 extra children at the school who are currently taught in run-down school buildings.

Joan, who visits the school every year, says she would like to raise the extra funds before her final trip in January 2014 - after she turns 80.

On her last visit to the country, Judy said the decision to continue for her final year came unexpectedly.

She said: “I was paddling at the water’s edge,when a piece of driftwood floated by, I kicked it away and walked down the river bank but the wood then drifted to me again.

“I picked it up and to my amazement, it was a perfectly rugged cross. I saw this as a sign that I needed to complete the project.”

Speaking about the 15 year project, she said: “I just cannot believe it. Sometimes I just sit at night and look at photographs as to how all this happened.” For more information visit www.bostonspamethodistchurch.org.uk/mission-/the-gambia or to donate contact Judy on 01937 843533.