Sarah DodgsonSarah DodgsonHi, 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 MitchellKaren 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 MitchellElizabeth 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 SwanDiane 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 HattonJulie 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 WhaleyLaura 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!

PeterPeter 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 DelanyJulie & David DelanyJambo! 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 FallowfieldStuart 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 FallowfieldDebra 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 FallowfieldGraeme 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 FallowfieldBev. 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.

Kevin RobinsonKevin Robinson. Born in the NE and passionate about social justice and inequality not only in the UK but across the globe.I am a trained Social Worker and Probation Officer retired in 2015  and currently work as a Non Executive Director with Hartlepool and North Tees NHS Trust, I am a Trustee of a supported housing project and actively fund raise on behalf of the children of Nepal following the tragic earthquake in 2015. Enjoy all sports but primarily played and coached rugby for 40 odd years but now prefer the comfort of my bike! Carol and I on the trip together having known Pete and Diane for many years and listened to their achievements, adventures and enthusiasm for the Meserani Project we wanted to see it for ourselves, understand the hardship, learn about the country and try to make some contribution to the project whilst enjoying the beauty and culture of Tanzania.
Carol Robinson
Carol Robinson. Hello everyone, I am Carol , married to Kevin and really looking forward to meeting you all on our trip to Africa. I am a physiotherapist …. this is how I met  Diane and Pete Swan many years ago! My hobbies are swimming , walking, cooking and gardening. I love to travel , I have listened to stories from Diane and followed Meserani web site, I know this trip is going to be so different to anything I have experienced before.  Bring it on!
Lisa ConnorLisa Connor. I will never forget the moment that I was asked to accompany Peter and 24 students from Acklam Grange school to go on the 2011 Africa trip. It was a ‘no brainer’, an opportunity of a lifetime. What I didn’t envisage was that it was going to change my life forever. That may sound dramatic and as a Teacher of drama and dance that may expected, but it is true. Before I went, the one thing I was nervous of was it not living up to my (and everyone else’s) expectation that it was going to be ‘amazing’. I was often told that I would ‘fall in love’ with it. Really? I was also very lucky as my partner David was able to join us for part of the trip and the whole experience didn’t disappoint one bit. Once the students were seated on the truck and we were travelling to our first destination, looking out of the window at the most beautiful scenes of Kenya, my fears very quickly disappeared and all this was before I met some of the most amazing, inspiring people. How has it changed my life? Seeing the gratitude and resilience of others who welcome you into their world will stay with me forever,  I feel very lucky that whenever I am having ‘a bad’ day’, I remember those I have been lucky enough to meet. It gives me strength and makes me appreciate my life so very much.
Pauline ConnorPauline Connor. Since 2011 all my daughter Lisa has talked about is Africa. So when she said that there was a possibility of me joining her on the trip, I thought it was a great opportunity. I have 5 children and am a retired machinist originally from Stockton on Tees. Although I have seen many photographs and videos of previous trips, it is still very hard to imagine what it is going to be like. Although I don’t mind admitting that I am a little apprehensive, I am really looking forward to meeting you all and creating new memories. 
Nicola JamesNicola James. Hello, I’m Nicola. I previously travelled with The Meserani Project back in 2007. It was a roller coaster of emotions, as I predict the upcoming trip will be. Africa is such an amazing, special place that left a lasting effect on me. I’m looking forward to going back and seeing the progress that has happened in nearly a decade, and seeing the people that have been helped by the project. I’m not travelling with anyone specific on this trip, which I’m a bit apprehensive about, however I do know some people from the previous one. It will be great to catch up with and share these experiences with you again. For the participants I haven’t met yet, I’m looking forward to meeting you and making new friends. I have a 9 to 5 office job, but love to be outside so in my free time I tend to sow and reap the rewards from my allotment. It’s my little piece of tranquillity in a hectic world. I’m looking forward to making new memories and can’t wait to go. see you.
Jackie HuckJackie Huck. I have two children who both went to Acklam Grange. Joe is 21 and studying Physics at university. Elizabeth is in her first year of college. I was widowed in 2008 and am now with my new partner Paul Dalkin. I have a cocker spaniel named Maddie who is now 11 years old. I work full time as a Civil Servant for DWP. I have worked there since I was 18. Some would say I am neither civil nor a servant but what do they know!  My daughter was part of the Africa trip in 2015. I attended the discussions and had chance to speak to people who had been on the trip. The majority verdict seemed to be that the people and the children made the trip. In all honestly I think I will be out of my comfort zone. I am used to spending holidays on a sun lounger or sight seeing. I am not looking forward to the injections but I am really looking forward to the adventure. I hope to be fit by the time we go on the trip so that I can outrun the slowest person if we get chased by a lion.
Jean DodgsonJean Dodgson. Hi! I’m Jean Dodgson, married to Mick and have 2 children Sarah and Matthew. All 4 of us are going on the trip to Africa this year. I used to work for Surestart as a literacy worker but since leaving, I like to read, go walking, knit and love to do anything crafty. Sarah has been on two previous Meserani Project trips and after seeing the photographs and hearing the stories from her most recent trip, I knew I couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to experience East Africa and the work of the project for myself! It is exciting to be going on the trip as a family and it will be the most memorable family holiday that we will have had. We are also currently sponsoring a child; Frank Leskar, through his secondary school education and it will be wonderful to hopefully get the chance to meet him.
Sarah FallowfieldSarah Fallowfield. Hi, my name is Sarah Fallowfield and I am a Primary School Teacher. After seeing pictures and hearing all of the stories from the 2015 Africa trip from my parents, Debra and Stuart and my Auntie Bev and Uncle Graeme, my partner and I couldn’t resist for the 2016 trip! I can’t wait to see Africa’s wildlife and visits to the schools! Looking forward to camp life too!

Antony MohanAntony 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 DodgsonMatthew 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-webSusan 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 DodgsonMick 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 WhaleyNick 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 DalkinPaul 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.

Clare Peacock

Clare Peacock. I’m a store manager for Costa Coffee. The reason I’m coming on this trip is for my love for Africa and the work that has been done at Acklam Grange School for the Meserani project. In 2011 I was nominated fundraiser of the year for the Costa Foundation (which is building schools in coffee growing communities) I had the amazing opportunity to travel across Uganda visiting the schools we had opened and spent time with the school children. I have always wanted to return to Africa and to help and support any projects I can, so I’m very excited to be joining everyone on this trip and to witness the amazing work that has been done through Acklam Grange School.Looking forward to meeting everyone.

Debby FordhamDebby 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!!!!”




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