Kenyan pupils set for tangerine treat thanks to Fylde friends

Alan Whelan in Africa with his travel documents to allow him to drive from South Africa to Kenya
Alan Whelan in Africa with his travel documents to allow him to drive from South Africa to Kenya
Share this article
Have your say

A Lytham man is spending Christmas getting set for a gruelling 5,000km drive across Africa to take much-needed supplies to a remote Kenyan school.

Author Alan Whelan met the head of the isolated school in Irovo when he was researching one of his travel books.

He was struck by the friendliness and humble nature of the people of the village and decided to help the school which has no furniture or modern teaching apparatus.

After an appeal, friends and neighbours rallied round with donations and he shipped 37 boxes of stationery and equipment – including tangerine AFC Blackpool shirts out to South Africa.

He said he and his wife Olive will be driving the supplies from South Africa to West Kenya next year.

He said: “People were very kind. The donations half filled our garage.

“We got a great surprise when we got a call from Albert and Mary Cooper, of St Annes, whose daughter Donna had heard about the project at LCC social services.

“They said they had some items to donate to the Irovo school project and would Olive like to come and collect. She was not prepared for what awaited her: four complete kits of football jerseys for all ages (mostly last year’s strip from AFC Blackpool).

“It was a terrifically thoughtful gift, and one that will be very popular in Irovo.

“Everything arrived safe and sound – even the three guitars, which were beautifully packed – and were stacked in our garage, ready to be sorted. Just like Christmas.”

The couple bought a 4X4 to make the long journey and collected their travel documents to make the journey through the various countries in Africa a smooth as possible.

He added: “We spent a sweaty afternoon squeezing as much stuff as possible into the 4×4 – a trial pack.

“It was close, but we couldn’t quite manage to pack in everything. We should have bought a Ford Transit!”

Alan discovered the village during an epic motorcycle ride around Lake Victoria for his book Empire Road.

He had actually been looking for another village which coincidentally had the same name but was instead directed to this one.

There he met a pastor called Vitalis who ran the school where the children had their lessons sitting on dirt floor and teachers had to write on the walls as they had no blackboard.