THE DUKE of Edinburgh Angus Open Award Unit in Arbroath received a major boost last Wednesday in its fund-raising campaign for a trip to Romania in June.
Alex and Sadie Thomson handed over a cheque for £1,000 which was raised through a ceilidh in Inverkeilor Hall and donations. The presentation ceremony took place in Arbroath Academy.
Their grandson, Jordon, is part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Open Unit so they decided to give the money to the group for their Romanian project.
The 12 young people who participate in the gold level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award have, as in the previous bronze and silver levels, to complete four sections.
They are volunteering, physical, skill and expedition, but they must also complete a residential section where they must be away working with people who they haven’t met before for a minimum of five days and four nights.
In 2008 and 2009 previous local gold groups successfully raised funds and carried out two projects in Baia Mare, Transylvania, Romania.
Gold leader Colin Barnes explained: “We had liaised with a Dundee group called ‘Capstone’ regarding The Logos Mission in the Baia Mare of Romania which owns ‘Cabana Angus’ where the project is run.
“Cabana Angus is a community project and has been developed from a rundown chalet which sleeps 18 people that Capstone helped the Romanians renovate back in the 1990s.
“The Logos Mission let us run our project from there. They bring along 25 to 35 under-privileged children each day, for at least six days out of the 10 we are there. On these days the young people of the award provide the Romanian children with educational play activities between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. as well as ensuring they receive a nutritious meal.”
Mr Barnes continued: “There will be 12 participants from Arbroath aged between 16 and 18 years, along with two volunteer leaders. It takes three flights each way just to get there and back! However, we have found going from Edinburgh to Amsterdam with KLM, then changing to Tarom Airlines from Heathrow to Bucharest, where we change to a smaller plane to Baia Mare, the cheapest and quickest way to get us there.
“It will cost £12,130.86 to fund the whole project for the 10 days. Since we started fund-raising in February of last year we have raised two thirds of the amount needed. We have organised and run ceilidhs, quiz nights, bag packs at local supermarkets, a race night and a sponsored bike run. Further events are planned.”
He went on: “In addition to completing the residential section of their Duke of Edinburgh’s gold award, our young people gain experience of travelling abroad, working with under-privileged people from a different culture, broadening communication skills as well as learning to be providers of a play scheme.
“Such is the impact of this experience that we still have young people, who went on the earlier trips, helping the group to raise funds for what they have described as a “life changing experience”.
“The Romanian children will benefit from the educational play, meeting young people from our culture as well as socialising and mainly having fun! These are children whose own families would not be able to take them on a holiday or spend money on fun and educational things for them.
“The Romanians also send some of their teenagers to help us translate, and helps them to practice their English with our teenagers, and for ours to pick up some Romanian, so it’s all working together and learning from each other.”