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Container for The Gambia - Summer 2016

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Our 2016 Summer Container

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We are sending our 2016 summer container to The Gambia rather earlier in the year than usual. This is because we had an amazing donation of classroom furniture from Broadfield East Junior school and Broadfield East infant school in  Crawley, which will be amalgamating in the summer to create Broadfield Primary Academy. The packing was done in three phases, with the addition of more school and office furniture, and lots of other stuff. This is probably the largest load we have sent to to The Gambia.

Broadfield offered us large numbers of tables and chairs, some other classroom furniture, plus a number of 'branded items' which would be obsolete when the school logo and colours change in September. All these items needed to be collected by Pageant almost straight away, so we decided to load a complete 40ft container ourselves, starting at Broadfield on 7th May and then relocating the container to Southwater for a further 3 weeks, to add furniture we already had in store, and fill all the remaining space with the usual 'squishies' (bags of soft items). All loading had to be completed by 28th May, which is when the container will be collected from Southwater for shipping.

furniture donated by the Bradfield schools
furniture donated by the Broadfield schools
furniture donated by the Bradfield schools
furniture donated by the Broadfield schools
furniture donated by the Broadfield schools

Phase One - Packing at Broadfield 7 May 2016

A team of Pageant members, together with people from Chris's church group and several members from the school staff undertook the first stage of packing at the Broadfield site.

All the items of furniture had to be labelled on site prior to loading, but all the 300+ squishies had been allocated and labelled beforehand. Very efficient and expert loading of a truly wonderful donation of 192 classroom tables, 352 classroom chairs, 8 teachers' tables, 14 'book corner' units, 10 smart whiteboards, 2 plain whiteboards and one adult chair. We filled just over half of the very big container and now have more furniture to load at Southwater over the next 18 days. We have more squishies to pack and label as well. In addition to the furniture, Broadfield East has donated loads of book bags, PE bags and school uniform, which has now got to be allocated and labelled, and there are other donations still arriving.

container arriving
container arriving
container 'dropping to ground'
container 'dropping to ground'
getting chairs out of storage
getting chairs out of storage
tables being organised for packing
tables being organised for packing
starting to fill the container
starting to fill the container
more tables go in
more tables go in
Headmaster, Dave Tow, is on the left<br>Ben at the front and Anthony behind him
Headmaster, Dave Tow, is on the left
Ben at the front and Anthony behind him
securing the first part of the load
securing the first part of the load
phase one packing team
Phase One packing team

The 'team' photo includes Ian, Chris, Brian, Sam, Ben, Maxine, Anthony, several people from Chris's church group and several members from the school staff (including the headmaster). You will notice that the school staff are holding bags with the TKAT logo on. The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) is one of the largest Multi-Academy Trusts in the South of England with over 40 Primary and Secondary Academies. The new Broadfield Academy is a member of that family.

The furniture from Broadfield will be going to 11 different schools in The Gambia This map shows the destinations (PDF file).

Donation to help with container costs

We have received notification that we have been awarded a donation of 2,000 from the Gilchrist Educational Trust to help with the costs of sending the container of school furniture to The Gambia in 2016. The Gilchrist Educational Trust "makes modest grants to British organisations if it seems likely that the project(s) for which funds are sought will fill up educational gaps or make more widely available a particular aspect of education or learning. The project(s) may be in the U.K. or overseas".

We would like to take this opportunity of publicly thanking the Trustees of the Trust for making this award to Pageant - it will help enormously in getting large quantities of classroom furniture to many Gambian schools.

Phase Two - Packing at Southwater 14 May 2016

Today we loaded furniture donated to us last year by Green Lane Primary in Worcester Park. London and stored since then in a barn at The Chase Farm in Southwater. The furniture was all cleaned, labelled and then loaded by our great phase 2 team - in all, we loaded 68 tables, 104 chairs, over 100 more squishies and a collection of items brought down by Kathy from Leatherhead Food RA, which is currently in the process of re-locating.

The loading was somewhat complicated by the fact that the furniture was stored in a barn in the farmyard and the container driver had been unable to get the container trailer into the yard! He had therefore dropped it to ground at the side of the lane just outside the farm gates - very picturesque, but meant we had to carry the stuff rather further than usual.

Brian and Kathy, cleaners-in-chief
Brian and Kathy, cleaners-in-chief
Ben and Ian taking chairs to the container
Ben and Ian taking chairs to the container
squishies waiting to be loaded
squishies waiting to be loaded
chairs in now, please
"chairs in now, please"
Frances stacking chairs beside the container
Frances stacking chairs beside the container
Anthony and Ian at the 'front face'
Anthony & Ian at the 'front face'
tea break!
tea break!
Fiona and Natasha packing laboratory glassware
Fiona and Natasha packing laboratory glassware
now for the tables
now for the tables
almost done
almost done
phase 2 packing team
Phase Two packing team

Phase Three - Packing at Southwater 22 May 2016

With Pippa and Ian enjoying a well-deserved break at a wedding in Devon, the final stage of packing the container was completed (Kathy and Andrew in charge!). A large amount of office furniture had been donated by CKE Service Ltd and had been brought by van to the Southwater packing site by Paul, arriving promptly at 11.00. He was met by today’s packing team of Anthony, Ben, Brian, Sam, Natasha, Grant, Rhys, Kathy and Andrew. There was such a large amount of furniture that Paul had been unable to get it all in the van (a long-wheeled base Luton) in one go, so the van was swiftly unloaded , and Paul returned with Anthony to Thames Ditton (an hour’s drive away) to load up the rest of the furniture.

The rest of the team then knuckled-down to labelling and loading the furniture into the container. Fortunately no cleaning was required this time! With that all done it was agreed to meet up in mid-afternoon to pack the rest. We estimated that it would take 3 -4 hours for the van to do the round trip so we either went home or adjourned to a nearby hostelry.

office furniture being loaded
office furniture being loaded
office furniture being loaded
office furniture being loaded
office furniture being loaded
what next?
what next?
a folding table goes in
a folding table goes in

The van duly returned with some bonus items that we weren’t expecting, four excellent folding trestle tables and a filing cabinet. Again the furniture was labelled and packed and by 5.00pm we were finished. No room for any more large items of furniture but we will be able to squeeze in a few more smaller items and squishies.

Other than that, the container is now ready for collection and sealing on 26th May. It will then be driven to Tilbury, loaded onto the container ship and then onto the high seas for its voyage to The Gambia.

nearly full!
nearly full!
just room for some shelving
just room for some shelving

We couldn't get all the team together for a single group photo, so here are two photos with some people in both.

Phase 3 team - part 1
Phase 3 team - part 1
Phase 3 team - part 2
Phase 3 team - part 2
Phase 3 team

Our thanks go to all those who helped in the successful packing of one of the largest, if not the largest, shipment we have ever sent to The Gambia. Special thanks also to all our generous donors, particularly Broadfield East schools, Green Lane Primary school and CKE Service Ltd.

Final things and off to Tilbury

Following the Phase 3 loading we did manage to get a few more goodies into the container - some very nice 'under-desk' 3-drawer units and a large quantity of stainless steel cooking dishes, trays and utensils (from Leatherhead Food RA) and a large inverted microscope (from ERA). Ben came to help us with the final juggling and securing of the load and then, on Thursday 26 May, it was collected.

3-drawer units
3-drawer units
cooking stuff
cooking stuff
Ben pointing to the microscope
Ben pointing to the microscope
microscope
the microscope
load secured
load secured
lifting loaded container
lifting loaded container

The collection itself was rather more eventful than anticipated.... the side-lift on the trailer picked up the now loaded container very successfully and it was then necessary to turn the vehicle round to go back down the narrow and twisty lane that leads to Chase Farm. After a lot of discussion the driver decided to back a short way down the lane, then drive forwards into the adjacent newly opened entrance into the farmyard, turn round in the farmyard and drive forwards out into the lane again. Sounds simple - however, it was a very tight turn into the gateway and the container lorry got stuck with its front wheels pointing in one direction and the rear drive wheels pointing at right-angles, none of them on very firm surfaces, resulting in considerable wheel-spin!

Malcom and tractor at full throttle
Malcom and tractor at full throttle
done it!
done it!

Consternation... then, enter our hero Malcolm with a small, elderly but tough little tractor. Having found and attached it to the towing point on the container lorry cab, Malcolm managed to bounce this little tractor forward, which just gave enough added impetus to the lorry to bring it round the corner - I would not have believed it if I had not seen it happen! After that, all went according to plan and our container was driven off to Tilbury docks - and we collapsed at Chase Farm for a much needed coffee.

Unloading in The Gambia

The container arrived in The Gambia in June 2016. The process of getting it out of the port and delivered to St Augustine's Senior Secondary School in Banjul on Tuesday 28 June started at 7am. The Pageant team of Yankuba, Abdoulie and Lamin, with other helpers, then got on with the unloading. The receiving schools sent their own transport to collect items, and all was finished by 9pm. This was an amazing achievement, particularly as it was Ramadan, and everyone was working hard with no food or drink.

the container arrives
the container arrives
opening the doors and starting to unload
opening the doors & starting to unload

In these photos Yankuba is in the red check shirt, Abdoulie is in the dark green shirt with diagonal blue/white stripe.

first items coming out
first items coming out
first items coming out
first items coming out
first items coming out

Lamin is helping Yankuba and Abdoulie to unload.

unloading continues
unloading continues
unloading continues
unloading continues
unloading continues
about half unloaded
about half unloaded
nearly all out
nearly all out

Finally the teams from the recipient schools loaded items on to their own transport, after checking that they all had the items due to them.

teams from different schools checking they have the correct items
teams from different schools checking they have the correct items

Afterwards Wandifa sent us this message:
"We're very happy to receive the container, especially the schools that are not having good chairs and tables for their students. They were over-joyed and they all sent you their best wishes. Pippa, thank you so much and all the Pageant members for your wonderful job. Our sincere thanks to you all. Myself, Abdoulie and Yankuba are willing to work with you and all Pageant members anytime. Once again a big thanks to you all and have a wonderful day."

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