Local businesses and schools have joined forces with Hampshire Fire and Rescue to send a Kenyan community a Christmas present with a difference, a container full of aid – and a fire engine!
Yesterday excited youngsters from St Francis School in Chandlers Ford visited the Fire and Rescue HQ on Leigh Road to help firefighters load a container donated by Bam Nuttall with boxes full of their favourite books and toys as gift to the children of Thika, a township close to Nairobi.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue have been providing training and equipment to the town for a number of years and have previously donated a fire engine that had become surplus to requirements.
This year Guernsey Fire Service has donated a unit which has come to the end of its normal life.
Station Manager Alec Martin, of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Urban Search and Rescue team, who heads the Thika project said that the fire service in Thika would have no problems in extending the useful life of the appliance.
“They are very resourceful people, although we have spares we can send, if they needed something like a head gasket – they would probably just make it themselves!”
Many different local organisations have contributed to the project including Ready Steady Store in Eastleigh, where all items were stored before being transferred to the container which will be shipped out to Kenya by Cory Brothers at a reduced price.
In addition to providing books, St Francis school are also sending some classroom furniture, Winchester College has donated science equipment and both Asda and B&Q helped out with fund raising.
Stephen Shepherd, head teacher of St Francis School, said:
“The children at St Francis recently received new classroom furniture and they were very keen that other children should benefit from the old furniture.
“In the past the school has donated other equipment, books and school uniforms to children in Kenya and Uganda.
When they heard about the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s work in Thika, it seemed the perfect way to recycle equipment and help other children.”
Chief Fire Officer John Bonney was also on hand to show his support for the initiative and to thank the children for their help.