Express & Star

Four teenagers edge closer to joining environmental taskforce in Madagascar

Four Kidderminster teenagers quest to help an international environmental mission to Madagascar is a step closer after a £1,000 donation.

Students Summer Bowen, Harry Gardiner, Rebecca Philpotts and Ben Jevons tell Lionspresident Ron Cross and Lions treasurer and secretary Linda Cross about the expedition

Baxter College pupils Rebecca Philpotts, Summer Bowen, both aged 16, Harry Gardiner, aged 17 and Ben Jevons, aged 18, are closing on the £14,500 target.

Kidderminster and District Lions Club has donated £500 to the young environmentalists from the town’s Baxter College, and the Sebright Foundation has awarded them a £550 grant.

The windfall leaves Rebecca Philpotts, Summer Bowen, both aged 16, Harry Gardiner, aged 17 and Ben Jevons, aged 18, with £1,500 left to raise.

They have been busy fundraising to join Operation Wallacea since the autumn with a series of sponsored events, including litter picking across the Malvern Hills.

The students have run raffles, bake sales, supermarket bag packs, a Bags2School recycled clothes collection, held a quiz night and produced a school calendar for sale.

They said they were “hugely grateful” to the Lions’ Club and the Sebright Foundation, which gives grants for educational purposes in Wyre Forest, for their generosity and added their thanks to all

those who have contributed to their fundraising.

Rebecca said: “It’s been a hard slog to raise so much money, but we’ve been so motivated by all the support we have had. We can now see light at the end of the tunnel and hope we can reach our target soon.”

Lions’ president Ron Cox said: “It’s a pleasure to support these students who have shown such determination to reach their goal and are so passionate about the environment. It will be a life-

changing experience for them.”

Harry added: “Operation Wallacea is a biodiversity and conservation research organisation. We will be working alongside researchers in Madagascar collecting data to support projects which will ultimately help local communities and government to design and implement large scale conservation management strategies.”

The island of Madagascar has developed its own distinct ecosystems and extraordinary wildlife since it split from the African continent 160 million years ago.

The students will set off at the end of term in July for a week in the Mahamavo forest and a week in the marine camp of Nosy Be, working alongside research scientists from the Operation Wallacea

Trust, gathering data to monitor the community managed forest and coral reefs of the fragile ecosystem, to help the urgently needed conservation.

Anyone wishing to support the students appeal should contact assistant principal Helen Wesson on01562 741524 or donate to their Go Fund Me page madagascar-expedition-2024.

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