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Festive appeal to support Kenyan schoolchildren

09 Dec 2019
Students at Barnard Castle School and members of KEEP during a visit to Kenya in 2018.

We are proud that once again a group of pupils from across the Barney school community are to support the work of KEEP – Kipsaina Education and Environment Partnership – next summer, as they travel to Kenya to help rebuild schools in the country.

The educational and environmental charity is aiming to raise £10,000 to support the renovation of a primary school in Kipsaina, Western Kenya.

To help fund this project, KEEP has produced a range of Christmas cards, in partnership with leading Newton Aycliffe-based manufacturer Roman, which are on sale now.

KEEP was established in 2017 by OB and current Biology teacher Mr Forsyth, OB Rubel Quader and Mary Matthews to raise funds for the rebuilding of a primary school in a small Kenyan village, as well as provide the school and community with a clean water borehole.

The charity has already built two new classrooms and renovated a third, but the remaining school buildings are in urgent need of re-building and, unless the appeal is successful, face closure in the New Year.

A group of 18 Barnard Castle School pupils and teachers will be travelling to Kipsaina in the summer of 2020 to help carry out the renovation and construction work, building on a similar, successful trip in 2018.

The charity has wider projects in Kenya, including eventually transforming Kipsaina Primary School into an eco-school and a centre for sustainable agricultural education.

The charity is also welcoming donations of reading glasses again, which pupils of Barnard Castle School are currently collecting. The glasses collected last year were distributed in Kipsaina village at a special eye-camp on Christmas Eve, giving the gift of sight back to hundreds of people.

Local businesses in Barney which helped collect glasses last year included The Teesdale Mercury, Bayfields Opticians and Specsavers. All three companies are helping with the collection again this year.

The KEEP school rebuild appeal has already attracted the support of former Monty Python star Michael Palin, who has donated to the cause!

Mr Forsyth said, “I set up KEEP in order to work in partnership with my inspirational Kenyan friend Maurice Wanjala. Maurice works tirelessly to improve his community and local environment, and is only held back by lack of resources.

“Establishing KEEP has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life as it has shown what a difference a relatively small amount of money can make to a community that is determined to make things better. Taking my own pupils to stay as part of this community has been life-changing for them too, as they learn that people are people wherever they are in the world. They also learn a little humbling perspective on the lives we lead in the UK.”

For further information about KEEP, to make a donation or purchase the Christmas cards, contact or you can visit Barnard Castle School’s Reception.

Donations can also be made through: