Devon volunteers prepare for trip to Gambia
Preparations are underway to send three volunteers from St John
Ambulance Devon into the African bush to offer unscheduled medical
care to remote villages.
Andrew Webber, Derek Earl and Mike Forster, from the Crownhill
Division in Plymouth, are heading out to The Gambia later this year
to support Plymouth College with their venture.
And now work has started to collect vital supplies from
healthcare organisations, including St John groups across Devon for
the men to take with them on their medical outreach trip.
Thanks to this project, healthcare is being improved in this Gambian village.
Area Training Development Officer for St John Ambulance in Plymouth
About the team
It’s the second time that Andrew, the Divisional Officer of
Crownhill’s Combined Cadet Unit, and Derek, the Divisional
Superintendent for Crownhill Adult Unit, have made the trip. Both
travelled to The Gambia in October 2007 and in 10 days they were
able to treat more than 100 people with a variety of different
With new recruit Dr Mike Forster drafted in for the first time
as an extra pair of expert hands, it’s hoped they’ll be able to
help dozens more.
The trio are all health care professionals who
work as volunteers for St John Ambulance Devon in their spare
Whilst in The Gambia they will continue the
work started last year in training centre staff in first aid and
medical care, passing on vital skills such as resuscitation,
treating of infection. The men will also help to run clinics for
In the beginning
Mark Greenway, the Area Training and
Development Officer for St John Ambulance in Plymouth, explained
how the first aid organisation became involved in the project.
“The initiative has come about through our association with
local school Plymouth College. For many years St John Ambulance has
provided first aid training to the students of Plymouth College as
part of their enrichment activities on a Friday afternoon. For the
past 22 years the college has supported the village of Kerewan
Samba Sira, annually sending tools, building materials and
equipment to construct schools and, more recently, a medical
centre,” he said.
Each year pupils fill a cargo container with
hundreds of boxes loaded with supplies to be sent to the village.
Fundraising takes place throughout the year to pay for the £1,680
container and the school approached us in 2007 to see if we could
provide any medical supplies including unwanted medication.
“We contacted divisions throughout Devon and,
when the group of college students and teachers set off to meet the
container, we sent along our two volunteers aswell to help train
the medical staff and get the health station up and running. It was
such a success that they are returning this year.”
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Mark Greenway said: “We are delighted to be able to help
Plymouth College in this way. This medical centre is in an area
where few people would have been able to gain access to proper
medical care, and without it many of the people who have been able
to get treatment would otherwise have become seriously ill.”
Fundraising events for the trip are taking
place in Crownhill throughout the year and medical supplies are
being collected now. The men will make their journey in the