Scout Chris goes that extra mile for Gambia expedition

AN Ely Scout was well prepared to go that extra mile to help others in fact, he went nearly 3,000 miles.

Chris Lyon, of Fieldside, was among a party of Cambridgeshire Scouts who went to The Gambia in West Africa to build a market garden for poor villagers.

Their mission has laid the foundations for an entry into Ferrier Pearce Young People of the Year, with a chance for Chris to win a cash prize from a �2,000 pot.

The touring Scout group was made up of Chris and four other Scouts from St Ives and Ramsey.

George Devine, the Cambridge-based UK Scouts global adviser for Africa went with the group, acting as an experienced overseer to keep a watchful eye on things.

The small group went to the village of Jiroff, located near the market town of Soma. For Cambridgeshire Scouts it was a return visit two years previously they had built teachers� accommodation at a primary school in Jiroff.

This time the aim was to prepare a market garden so that the local people could not only grow food for themselves but also use it to trade, so helping to make the village less poor.

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But before that each scout had to raise �1,500 which they did by selling sweets, packing bags in supermarkets, car parking supervision at an event, and other ways.

Having left their comfortable homes and mod-cons behind the group lived for almost three weeks in rooms in a scout centre in Soma with basic facilities, returning just in time for Christmas.

Chris said: “It was hard work, particularly when it got to the middle of the day and the sun was out. It was extremely hot, up to 40C some days. We had to smother ourselves in sunscreen and take bottles of water. It was too hot to work in the middle of the day.”

Chris, an apprentice engineer, said that what affected him most was the friendliness of the people and the beautiful scenery. He spent some time drawing a massive baobab tree.

YOPEY founder Tony Gearing said: “Once again we have a group of young people who went abroad and worked hard together in challenging conditions to improve the lives of people who are not so well off. They enjoyed it and have learned from that experience.” Any young person aged 10-25, who is a positive role model and gives to others, can enter themselves or be nominated.To nominate logon on to or write to YOPEY, PO Box 236, Newmarket CB8 1DP, enclosing an SAE, for paper entry form.