Sarah Dodgson. Hi, I’m Sarah, a Geography teacher at The King’s Academy. In my spare time, I learn and teach Irish Dance. I am an ex-pupil of Acklam Grange School and visited Africa on the 2007 trip. It was the most wonderful, yet eye-opening experience. Since then I returned to East Africa on the 2014 adults trip which was a very different experience, with the point of view of a teacher this time instead of a student. Since returning home from that trip I have gone on to sponsor a student through his secondary education, this 2016 trip will hopefully give me the opportunity to meet him in person, which will be fantastic! People say this kind of trip is a once in a lifetime experience but once you have had the opportunity to love Africa, visiting once or even twice just isn’t enough. Most of all I am looking forward to seeing the lovely people of Africa again, to see the progress that has taken place since I was last there, and see the difference the amazing work of the Meserani Project is making to the lives of the people of East Africa.
Karen Mitchell. Hi. I’m Karen Mitchell. I’m married to John and we have a daughter called Elizabeth; she is also on the 2014 trip with me. I have recently retired from work as a Nurse/University lecturer teaching health care staff. I love to play tennis and do so several days a week now I’m retired. I’m really looking forward to the trip. I can’t wait to see the wild life and also to visit the schools and clinics, and I’m particularly looking forward to meeting the young man we sponsor.
Elizabeth Mitchell. Hello. I’m Elizabeth Mitchell. I’m 24 years old, I teach English in a secondary school. My hobbies include roller derby and improv comedy. I play roller derby for Middlesbrough Milk Rollers, our team is currently 10th in the European league. I was last in Africa when I was a pupil at Acklam Grange School. I’m really looking forward to going again to see how the project has progressed since I visited seven years ago.
Diane Swan. Since retiring in 2007, Africa has been a big part of my life – the wildlife and the people. Writing and publishing the wildlife guide has been hard work, but great fun, and the experiences I had whilst researching for the book on location in East Africa have provided many unforgettable memories. The Meserani Project has allowed me to give something back to the people of Tanzania – they need our support, they deserve it, and they put it to good use. I have met many inspirational people in Africa, and I am looking forward to introducing some of them to the group. One life – love it – live it!
Julie Hatton. Hi this will be my second trip to Africa and I cannot wait! Africa was everything I imagined it to be. Vibrant, warm, alive.happy, sad. And with all its poverty the young people greet you with big sunshine smiles. I feel proud to be apart of an amazing charity. You are so well looked after by the Kupenda Africa company. Great cooks, hosts that by the end of your holiday they turn into great friends. Highlights of my holiday… Meeting Richard whom we sponsor. He proudly showed us around his school. And was so grateful for the opportunity of an education. I also met Agness who we also sponsor. Visiting schools and taking the most basic things we take for granted, pens and pencils. The smiles on faces when you deliver these! Priceless! And last but now least camping out in the Tarangire national park. AMAZING! When we packed the tents away on the morning a herd of elephants passed by no more than 8 feet away. I also planted a tree at the Crater Lake Sanctuary in memory of my Leon. We will have to see how it’s grown. This place was simply idyllic. The saddest moments a little boy asking if I had a sandwich he and his friends could share at one of the schools. Some children have nothing to eat all day long and walk miles to schools. I can still see his little face, heart breaking. And the fact that there is no natural running water. A basic human need. If one of your dreams is to visit Africa then do it with Meserani & Kupenda Africa – you will not be disappointed.
Laura Whaley. Hi my name is Laura and I am currently Head of PE at a school in Saltburn. Previously I taught at Acklam Grange School and I was lucky enough to be asked to be a member of staff on the 2009 Africa trip. Those 3 weeks in Africa have so far been one of the best experiences of my life. I cannot wait to go back again. I made friends for life on that trip and look forward to experiencing it again with them and everyone else on the trip. Africa really is one special place and the feeling of being out there is too difficult to describe; as the well known Meserani Project song says ’I can only Imagine.’ You really can only imagine what it would be like until you are lucky enough to experience the real joys of Africa!
Peter Swan. I retired from full time teaching in 2012, which has allowed me to spend more time working on The Meserani Project. Working with young people in Tanzania is clearly a different ball game to working as a teacher in the U.K., but I am finding it so much more rewarding and meaningful. Taking a group of adults to East Africa seems like a natural progression from taking groups of school pupils there, and the first Adults Trip in 2014 proved to be a huge success This will be my 27th. visit to Africa, and every one has been unique, challenging, memorable, and extremely rewarding – I am sure this visit will be just the same. To those taking part – enter into this ‘adventure’ with an open mind, and who knows what will happen – one thing is sure, you won’t come back the same person.
Julie & David Delany. Jambo! We are Julie and David Delany and this will be our second trip with the Meserani project. Our daughter Ruth became involved with the project while she was a pupil at Acklam Grange and her passion for it inspired us to sponser pupils. On the last visit the highlight was meeting our sponsored pupil Paulo and we are hoping we will meet him again and maybe his family during this visit. Julie : I am a school counsellor working at Acklam Grange School. David : I am an architect working for a practice in Stokesley. We are both looking forward to sharing another wonderful experience with the Meserani Project.
Stuart Fallowfield. Hi, I’m Stuart, and I work for the NHS locally. I am very excited about my first trip to Kenya and Tanzania with my wife, Debra, brother and sister-in-law Graeme and Bev. I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to travel to Africa on a trip led by our good friends Peter and Diane Swan. I know that it will be a trip of a lifetime and it will be great to see first hand the fantastic work that they have been doing and meet the children whose lives have been changed by their charity. I know that there will be lots of new experiences and I am looking forward to seeing the wildlife up close-but hopefully not too close!
Debra Fallowfield. Hi, I’m Debra. Married to Stuart, we have two children, Sean 27, and Sarah 24. Really looking forward to our trip to Africa. Can’t wait to go on Safari, I am hoping to see lots of elephants close up as they are my favourite animals. Also looking forward to visiting the schools, to see for myself the amazing work that Peter and Diane have been doing, and also to meet Anna, who we are sponsoring. I am sure I will be left with lots of wonderful memories and hopefully some great photographs.
Graeme Fallowfield. Hi I’m Graeme. I work at Hartlepool College of FE, as a joinery lecturer in the Construction Department. One of my hobbies is playing the cornet in the Cleveland Police Band. Interested in visiting the schools and doing some work during my holiday.
Bev. Fallowfield. Hi, I’m Bev. I am married to Graeme and work as an Administrator at Hartlepool College of FE. Born in Bulawayo Zimbabwe, I moved to South Africa in 1980 before moving to Hartlepool in 1996. I love African wildlife, especially elephant and giraffe, so really looking forward to the Game drives. It is going to be interesting to meet the Children and seeing first-hand the work Peter and Diane are doing.
Antony Mohan. Hi, I’m Antony Mohan (Sarah is my fiancé and Stu and Deb the future in-laws). By day I am a business consultant working for a large digital agency based in Stockton, by night I enjoy going to the gym and getting involved in sport – so I am very much looking forward to helping out on the sports day during our trip. I have travelled a lot over the years, but I am yet to explore the heart of Africa. Really looking forward to the trip as I have heard nothing but great things.
Matthew Dodgson. Hi, I’m Matthew. I have supported the Meserani Project since secondary school at Acklam Grange, helping out and getting involved in any fundraisers I could. Many of my friends have been to Africa and I can’t wait to experience it for myself. I know this is a fantastic opportunity to see what amazing work the Meserani Project has done for the schools in Tanzania and Kenya, and to experience African culture. I’m 22 years old, work for Middlesbrough College and I play drums in a rock band in my spare time.
Susan Walker. Hi, I’m Susan. I am married to Andrew and we have 2 grown up married children and 3 grandchildren who keep us busy. I work part time for both my children in a reclamation yard which I love. The work is varied and my main responsibilities are sales and website. When I am not working or babysitting I enjoy gardening, photography and nature and currently am studying photography part time in Stockton. I am also a member of Stockton on Tees Soroptimist where I first heard of Peter and Diane Swan and their trips to Africa. Embarking on the trip I decided was an opportunity had I missed it I would have regretted not trying as I am passionate about Africa. Having visited Kenya before I am looking forward to the wildlife and nature, especially the giraffes and birds. Visiting Tanzania will be a first for me and I am excited to be meeting my sponsored girl as that will be the icing on the cake for me if I do. I am the lady travelling on her own who you may have heard of. This is also a new experience for me other than Europe and sometimes can feel a little daunting. However, I am really looking forward to meeting you all and feel really positive about the trip.
Mick Dodgson. Married to Jean, and together with Sarah and Matthew, it’s such a great opportunity for us to all go to Africa as a family along with the rest of the team. Sarah has been before a few times and each time she has come back with some brilliant stories that I have no doubt will be added to on the 2016 expedition. I have recently left the NHS where I worked for many years and this adventure has come about at just the right time for me in terms of personal reflection, whilst at the same time experiencing people that are much worse off than ourselves in so many ways. I see this as a fantastic chance to be a part of the Meserani Project experience and contribute in whatever way I can. I am also looking to meeting Frank in person our sponsored student. Seeing the wildlife will be a lifetime experience that I am also so excited about.
Nick Whaley. Hello I’m Nick! I’m 24 and Laura’s little brother! She’s been to Africa before and really encouraged me to go even though it didn’t take much persuasion! (I’ll have to be on best behaviour with her around!) I first got involved with the Meserani project in my job at Barclays Bank, and used the company’s great matched fundraising scheme to support the Meserani Project raise more money at some of their frequent events. I’m currently using my 2016 to travel around and see the world, and thanks to this expedition I’m going to be able to see the heart of Africa. I can’t wait to throw myself into this beautiful continent and meet some lovely people!
Paul Dalkin. Hi, I am Paul Dalkin. I am not of this parish originally, but as I have worked at Teesside University for 15 years and I live in the lovely village of Norton, I suppose I am rather fond of the area. Although I am a Newcastle United fan, I shan’t wish to talk about football if we are relegated by the time we go to Africa :-(. I work as a IT technician and I was in the Territorial Army for 9 years, but this doesn’t mean I will be any good at warding off Lions. Also, don’t let me near guns (kidding!). I have been Jackie Huck’s partner for 6 years and I can confirm Jackie’s promise that you WILL be abandoned to the Lions I won’t be able to ward off as we both scarper. Hopefully quicker than you. The experiences of Jackie’s Daughter, Elizabeth, on the 2015 trip and the videos we’ve seen have inspired and filled me with awe for this expedition. I am looking forward to seeing a nightscape without European pollution, the Baobab tree and the natural diversity of the rift valley and Ngorongoro Crater. And of course the natural enthusiasm of the African people.
Debby Fordham. Hi, I’m Debby and I live near Leeds. This will be my first venture into this part of Africa, having previously visited more northern/eastern countries there. Not sure what to expect: nervous about the bugs and crawlies (but dying to see a baby elephant); anxious about how I will react to the sadness and poverty we will invariably encounter; and concerned about whether the children will be comfortable interacting with me. But most of all… I AM SO EXCITED!!! In the last 28 years I have worked for two charities; both supporting older people in the UK. I get a great deal of pleasure from knowing my work makes a difference. The Meserani Project inspired me from the first time I heard about it from my friends Julie and Laleisha. I particularly like the fact that ALL the money raised goes directly to helping these deserving children. I am proud that I can become part of the project, and support its incredible achievements. This trip combines three of my passions in life: animals; travel; and charity work. And I can’t wait!!!!”
This page is not quite complete – it will be updated very soon.