Students set to fil the gap

PUBLISHED: 16:16 14 December 2006 | UPDATED: 13:39 04 May 2010

Daniel Brown, Sian Jefford and Max Hailwood plan to travel to Africa in 2009

Daniel Brown, Sian Jefford and Max Hailwood plan to travel to Africa in 2009

THREE enterprising young students have it all mapped out. They plan to head off to Africa in 2009 before starting university. Sixteen-year-olds Daniel Brown, Sian Jefford and Max Hailwood have just finished their GCSEs, but are already planning their futu

THREE enterprising young students have it all mapped out. They plan to head off to Africa in 2009 before starting university. Sixteen-year-olds Daniel Brown, Sian Jefford and Max Hailwood have just finished their GCSEs, but are already planning their futures. They have launched an ambitious fundraising programme to finance a 10-week trip to Namibia with Rayleigh International, a charity committed to the personal growth and development of young people.

The charity offers overseas and UK programmes to help young people develop skills and self-confidence and at the same time help others. Littleport students, Daniel, of Grange Lane and Max, of Washington Close, and Sian from High Barns, Ely decided to take a gap year because they wanted a break after finishing their A-levels in two years' time.

Sian suggested Namibia because she hopes to be a teacher and can work with children in the country which is the size of Germany and France combined, but with a population of just two million is one of the most sparsely populated in the world.

Daniel and Max, who are studying at Cambridge's Long Road College and Sian, who is taking A-levels at Ely Sixth Form Centre, need to raise £3,500 each to spend 10 weeks with Rayleigh International.

Their fund-raising has already started in earnest and on Saturday, December 23, they will man a stall at Ely market's Christmas fair selling bric-a-brac to boost their funds. They also plan to hold a raffle. Prizes include a photograph from the BBC's Blue Peter team and a T-shirt worn and signed by actress, Julie Hesmondhalgh who plays Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street. Daniel said: "We want to travel and experience different cultures before continuing with our studies. "In Namibia we will be working on either an environmental project or a community project. It will give us a chance to take a break from our studies before going onto university." Next Easter, the three, who met while pupils at Ely Community College, plan a daring skydive from 15,000 feet in a bid to top up their travel fund. They will make the jump from Chatteris airfield and hope to encourage sponsorship.

INFO: To sponsor Daniel, Sian and Max or find out more about their plans contact them by email at ds2naboo@hotmail.co.uk

RAYLEIGH International has a long-term partnership in Namibia with the environmental organisation Rare and Endangered Species Trust. Previous projects have involved building aviaries for the endangered Cape Griffon vulture, getting involved in setting up captive breeding programmes and building viewing hides as part of an initiative to raise awareness of conservation issues.

Volunteers have also built a school, with two classrooms and a cultural centre and transformed a dusty space with a few old tyres into an adventure playground for children.

The charity was founded in 1984 and is open to young people of all nationalities and backgrounds, including disadvantaged and "at risk" youngsters.

Its overseas and UK programmes are designed to help young people develop skills and self-confidence in a fun and challenging environment beyond the classroom and workplace.

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