News from 2013 - and what a busy year in Kenya and in the UK...!

Wangari's Christmas Greetings, December 2013.

Christmas greetings to all our friends and supporters in the UK and Kenya.  We hope you all have a peaceful Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. Our thoughts are with Wangari, as she has been unwell. We wish her a speedy recovery. In her Christmas Message Wangari says:

Dear Friends, I take the opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and prosperous Year 2014 on behalf of our needy children who have joined us together. I wish you God's mercy and blessing, especially this Christmas period. You are always present in my heart, not only are you friends but a family that has become part of my life. Merry Christmas and a year full of blessings and graces, I and my children love you all, God Bless, Wangari.

Wangari explains that some of her children had never slept in a bed until they started at school, and some had always been hungry. Our project has provided regular meals, hygiene, security and friendship, as well as education, and she cannot emphasise enough that none of it would have been possible without the support of her friends in the U.K.


We held a Christmas Concert on Saturday 7th December at the Sacred Heart Church, Weston Favell, Northampton. This was a public event, and lots of people attended. The venue was the iconic pyramid shaped building in the appropriately named Pyramid Close, off Billing Brook Road just to the north of the shopping centre. The Hunsbury Harmonettes Choir of 30 ladies presented a range of songs during the evening in a very professional and versatile show which included works by Benjamin Britten and Noddy Holder. Helen organised the choir with professional orderliness, and Mel put in a lovely solo performance. Once again, thanks to everyone for a very special evening which raised £790.

Mulled wine and mince pies were shared between singers and the audience during the interval, and as always all the proceeds from the performance went to the school in Kenya. It was a chance to reflect on the differences between our countries, it is unlikely that the children in Wangaris school will have heard of mince pies, let alone tasted them.

Click here  to download or view poster as pdf.


John Sleet Radio Interview, December 2013

John was invited to promote the Karuri School Project and the Hunsbury Harmonettes concert in an interview with John Griff of Radio Northampton on Tuesday 3rd December. You can hear the interview by clicking on this button: Radio Interview (If your computer is set up to play mp3 sound files)

 Arrival of the Water Tanks, November 2013.

It was with some excitement that the new water tanks arrived on the school site. These huge tanks each hold around 10000 litres, and they will be used to store water so avoiding the need to fetch and carry. They will supplement the small tanks already installed, and should make a great difference to the school by making water available as needed. The plan is to harvest rainwater from the roof by using gravity to collect it in the underground tank, and with the newly installed electricity the water can be pumped to the new raised tanks, then fed into the school building where needed.


 The new water tanks



Pub Quiz at Wistow - October 2013

Results of the Pub Quiz in Wistow, Huntingdon.

"Thank you" to Gerry and Julie of the Three Horseshoes Pub in Wistow, who kindly hosted our quiz on Wednesday 30th October, and thanks also to everyone who entered. Half a dozen teams showed some fierce competitive talents, and a local team from the village were clear winners by 4 points. The Northampton contingent, (The PinkleWickers) came second. All the proceeds including the prize for coming first were returned to our project, along with proceeds from the raffle. Over £120 was raised altogether.

There was no cheating, lots of fun, and some very obscure questions from John and Sue Sleet who travelled all the way from Bath on the day to act as Quizmasters. Not only that, they drove all the way back to Bath after the quiz finished. True dedication to the project! Thank you.

Jill and John Wadsworth kindly provided a delicious supper for the travellers before the quiz, with coffee and commiserations afterwards.

 Just a few of the photos from the quiz night


The Karuri School Project website - October 2013. During the summer we decided to give the website a facelift. After some thought we moved away from the original pc based site construction method and switched to a Content Management System. We chose the popular open source Joomla software to deliver the site, which is now up and running. There may be a few teething troubles, but hopefully you can now see the content properly in most of the popular browsers, as well as on smartphones and tablets. We will continue to develop the site, so watch out for changes from time to time.

A day at Smurfit Kappa - 13th July. Donations to "The Hebe Holmes Memorial Fund" continue through Hebe's father Pete, who is a long-standing employee of the international packaging company, Smurfit Kappa. This year their Yate plant near Bristol adopted the Fund as one of their charities and invited the Karuri School Project fundraisers to a Family Fun Day on July 13th. Two of us took up their invitation. We left early, complete with displays, picnic and gazebo and arrived at the plant to find generous hospitality, a band and many stalls, games and activities for all employees' families. The sun shone throughout on what turned out to be a day to remember. Soon after we arrived, Pete introduced himself together with Hebe's grandmother, aunts and uncle. They were deeply moved to see Hebe's memory kept alive at the Karuri School Project stall. We also met the UK CEO and the MD at Yate, as well as people who had worked at the plant in Northampton. Finally Pete was called forward to accept a cheque from the Company for £2,500. We arrived back in Northampton at 10.00pm, exhilarated and quite overwhelmed by the warmth and generosity at Smurfit Kappa. The employees' generous response continues and further greatly appreciated donations to the Fund have been received from the plants at Northampton and Cork in Ireland. Hopefully Hebe's family can take comfort from such positive outcomes in her name. Certainly the children in Kenya will always remember her.

Fundraising / donations so far this year We would be unable to continue our support for Wangari without the help of our many friends and supporters, including the following:

Sponsored Walks – Sally Dalley - £131

Whitehills Primary School, Northampton - £135

Caroline Chisholm School, Northampton - £546.95

Donation from David Young’s Charity - £500

Karuri Spring Concert - £622

Catenians (President’s Charity) - £1276. June 2013. The President and Brothers of the Catenians Northampton Circle recently hosted a presentation evening for those charities sponsored by last year’s President, Gareth Jones. Gareth presented a cheque for £1,276 which was accepted by John Sleet on behalf of the Karuri School Project. In thanking President Gareth for the Circle’s generosity, John Sleet explained that there was still much to be done at the school in Kenya in terms of buildings, sanitation, plumbing and equipment both for education and living.

The Catenians Presentation

Donation from profits from the sale of book “If Angels Were Your Priests”, the memoirs of Canon Stanislaus Condon - £200

Kitchen Tables Charity Trust A big thank you to the Kitchen Table Charities Trust which has supported us with a grant of £5500. This has been allocated specifically for all aspects of water harvesting, including a second tank, washing, sanitation, plumbing and to expand the capacity for electricity. This is a major step forward for the school and will enable the development of those vital everyday services which we so easily take for granted. Thanks to Olivia Sleet for her help researching this project.

Jill and John Wadsworth recently celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Our congratulations and best wishes go to them along with our grateful thanks for over £600, donated to Karuri School Project, given by their family and friends instead of anniversary gifts.

Donations of patchwork quilts and v necked sweaters, made by WI members, have been sent to Wangari. We hope the quilts will be used to decorate the dormitory walls. The WI continues to support us generously, in many ways, and we are very grateful for their sustained interest.

The commitment to sponsorship is very much appreciated and enables Wangari to plan for the long term future of the school. Currently it provides over £300 a month. Thank you to everyone concerned.

Summer concert 8th June The Karuri School Project summer concert was held at 7.30 pm, on Saturday 8th June, 2013, at The Sacred Heart Church, Weston Favell, Northampton. It was a very enjoyable evening, of varied music, performed by The Hunsbury Harmonettes Choir. The amazing sum of £622 was raised and everyone agreed that the choir were superb. Many thanks to them for such a splendid evening's entertainment Thanks also to all who sold tickets, helped set out, serve drinks and clear up on the night. Your help is much appreciated.

Walk for a Cause Walk Presentation Evening was held of 23rd May, and we were delighted to receive a cheque for £500. This is the second year they have donated money to Karuri School and we are grateful for their continued support.

Walk for a Cause Committee, with with a poster of Wangari looking on.


27th April Our Summer Fair was held at Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School, Northampton. This was our first ever Summer Fair, and we were delighted to raise £250. Thanks to everyone who supported this event. Special thanks to the staff of Good Shepherd School for making us so welcome.

April 2013 Message from Wangari, Sacred Heart School Wangari sends her love and gratitude for everyone’s continued support. She has been buying food to store – a sack of sugar, a sack of maize flour, a sack of rice as well as cooking fat, salt and tea bags. The teachers’ accommodation is almost finished, with just the toilets and connection to the septic tank to be completed. However, running water is regrettably still on the wish list. Wangari is organising a school trip to Nairobi for the children to see the museum and game park. Most of the children have never been to Nairobi, so you can imagine their excitement. The cow purchased by Helen, one of our committee members, in 2011, gave birth for the second time. Both the cow and calf are healthy and doing well.

5th April John Sleet, Chair of Trustees, recently celebrated his birthday. The children and staff at Sacred Heart School remembered John’s birthday and celebrated as well, with bread, tea and prayers. The Northampton group also celebrated John’s 60th birthday. Guests were asked not to bring personal presents; instead wrapped gifts were auctioned throughout the evening. It was great fun, with mystery, intrigue and some crafty bidding! Including the Grand National Pick 3 Competition and sweepstake with a difference, an amazing £491.70 was raised. Thanks to John and his family for the food and organisation. A really good night!

22nd March The fourth quiz night was held on 22nd March, inappropriately advertised as our Spring Quiz. In fact the scene at St Gregory’s Catholic Primary resembled the frozen wastes more than Northampton. Undeterred however, over 40 hardened quiz-goers made it an entertaining and successful evening and £378 was raised for the project. A big thank you to everyone who helped with the evening, those who turned out and the school (especially Phil the Site Supervisor) for allowing us to use their facilities. Watch out for future events – the next quiz will be in the Autumn during the Indian Summer (we wish) but first our Spring Fair at the Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School on Saturday 27th April will soon be upon us.

20th February Geoff and Janet Cutts, with their granddaughter Harry, took time from their safari holiday to visit Sacred Heart School. We would like to thank them for their gifts to the staff and children, and especially for delivering Hebe's plaque. More details of the Hebe Holmes memorial fund can be found in the October 2012 newsletter.