Stevenage sports centre manager aims to repeat ‘humbling’ mission to Gambia

Jay, who works at the Marriotts Sports Centre, visited the school with colleague Jordan Wilson, pers

Jay, who works at the Marriotts Sports Centre, visited the school with colleague Jordan Wilson, personal trainer Andy Prior and Marriotts School head of sixth form Adam Illingworth. - Credit: Archant

Schoolchildren trying to get an education against the odds thousands of miles away were blown away by a giant delivery of packed pencil cases that came by special delivery all the way from Stevenage.

While in Gambia they taught several science and sports lessons.

While in Gambia they taught several science and sports lessons. - Credit: Archant

Sports centre manager Jay Drackford led the team on the 3,600 mile journey which took 400 pencil cases containing pencils and other everyday educational items as well as small gifts to the Anne Marie Javouhey Academy in the west African country of The Gambia.

Jay, who works at the Marriotts Sports Centre, visited the school with colleague Jordan Wilson, personal trainer Andy Prior and Marriotts School head of sixth form Adam Illingworth.

As well as delivering the consignment of goodies, the visitors taught sports and science lessons to the youngsters.

Jay, 34, told the Comet: “It was incredible and humbling.

More than 400 pencil cases donated by people from Stevenage and North Herts were handed out to scho

More than 400 pencil cases donated by people from Stevenage and North Herts were handed out to school children. - Credit: Archant


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“The poverty we saw was unbelievable, and so was the fact that we could see how we were making a difference.

“We went to one school where we gave out pencil cases, and the kids were just blown away with the idea that they could keep them.

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“They had literally nothing. Some of the kids didn’t even have shoes on, they were that poor. It was unbelievable.”

Jay said the trip has also helped firm up the next part of the Marriotts Gambia Project, which he has started with the school in Brittain Way to help the Gambian pupils.

“We have come away from it knowing exactly what we want to do next, and that is to put a roof on the library,” he said.

“Every time it rains the roof leaks and the books get ruined, so that is what we want to fix next year.”

Jay and the Marriotts team will now show the photographs and videos they made in Africa to the community at the school at 7pm on Tuesday, April 28.

He would like as many people as possible to come along and get involved with the project and is already planning another trip to Gambia.

For more information email j.drackford@marriotts.herts.sch.uk.

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