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College students support African sport and educational project that is being overseen by an ITFC legend

News overview

Eight students and three staff from a college raised thousands of pounds and travelled over 4000 miles to help support a sport and educational project in Ghana.

The group from Suffolk New College teamed up with a charity called Futurestars and have just got back from a ten day trip that one of the students described as ‘life changing’.

Staff and learners with Simon Milton

Discussions about this collaboration began in 2020 when Ipswich Town legend and director of Futurestars Simon Milton, first came to the College to discuss a potential collaboration.

A trip was planned later that year but then Covid travel restrictions kicked in.

However, four years on, the first group finally made it out to Africa.

Students in Ghana

Whilst there, the College supported one of the six schools that Futurestars supports in Ghana by taking part in lessons and overseeing physical education activities.

They also got to look around some of the local landmarks including Cape Coast and Jamestown – but the main purpose of the visit was to work with the charity for the benefit of local schools.

Lee Mandley is the director of Service Industries and Science. Lee said: “We had students from childcare, health and social care, forensics and sport and I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of a set of students in my professional career.

Lee Mandley with student from Ghana

“They all had to raise over £2000.00 to fund this trip and the compassion, empathy and care they had for the people they met was life affirming.

“Being able to eat, drink, have shelter and go to school are the basics that you expect in this country – but none and of those things are guaranteed in Ghana. I think the trip has positively changed the student’s outlook on life and made them more humble.

Suffolk New College learner helping in the classroom

He added: “This was a pilot for us and I think we can now open this up to the rest of the college – not just my directorate – and I think this is a partnership that will go on for a very long time.”

Sonny Gibbons, 16, from Ipswich is on a forensic science and criminology course. Sonny said; “This has been life changing. To see people who have virtually nothing but seem happier than us makes you question what is really important.

Sonny Gibbons holding charity shirt

“It’s made me stop complaining and be grateful for what I have. I’m going to continue to donate money to the charity.”

Amelie Bardeaux, 19, from Ashfield is on a health and social care course at Suffolk New College. Amelie said: “This was a new opportunity and a good experience. Seeing some of the things we saw, makes you realise we complain over things that don’t matter.”

Amelie Bardeaux with charity shirt

Simon Milton from Futurestars said: “To finally get this off the ground with a great group who fundraised for themselves was amazing.

“For Suffolk New College to decide that we are a charity of choice that they are going to support speaks volumes about the College and the people who are running the College. And it’s great for the students to have this experience on their CVs.

“The students and staff will now become our ambassadors and I really believe that this is the beginning of something special between the college and Futurestars.”

Whilst travelling to Africa, Simon Milton has worked with a number of professional football clubs to send sports kit for communities to use. Within this, Ipswich Town Football Club has donated a variety of items to the cause. So has this seen a rise in Ipswich Town fans in this part of Africa?

Simon Milton and Lee Mandley

Simon added: “In Ghana they love Chelsea, Arsenal, Brighton and many other clubs but Ipswich Town fans are holding their own. By sending kit and boots out to Africa, we are promoting UK football – and with my connections I talk about Ipswich all the time.

“It’s always nice to see our (ITFC) fanbase grow in other parts of the world,” he added.

Posted 26 April 2024