Woodley church group prepares for life-changing trip to South Africa

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A GROUP of youngsters from a church in Woodley are preparing for a trip of a lifetime to help a community in South Africa.

Eleven young people, aged between 16 and 25-years-old, and two leaders from the charity Urban Saints, will be flying out to Soweto, a township near Johannesburg, for ten days in July to help build a house.

The youngsters, who all attend Woodley Baptist Church, in Hurricane Way, will join other groups from across the UK for the trip, which will see them help to build two houses in the town.

Steph Pickles, from Urban Saints, will be joining the group for her fifth trip to South Africa.
She said: “It’s a great opportunity for the children, they will learn so much and skills that they otherwise would never have the chance to learn.

“The looks on the children’s faces who we help in the township is something that I never forget. It is a very humbling experience. They have nothing, and they are so happy and excited by the smallest gifts, I think it will be a life-changing experience for these youngsters.”

Katie Lawrence and Emily Ciccazzo, both 15, are two members of the group heading out to Johannesburg. The girls will have just finished their GCSE exams by the time they fly to South Africa.

Emily said: “I had seen people go in previous years and thought it seemed like something I really wanted to get involved in. It would be a completely new experience for me.”

Katie added: “We will be building a house for a family living in poverty, and run a children’s club on the site every afternoon.

“I have never done anything like this before so I am really excited.”

The group are looking to raise £21,600 for pay for their trip, and are holding a series of fundraising events to make their dream a reality.

One such event is an evening of music at the church on Saturday, September 30, featuring performances by local artists such as the A440 Mixed Voice Choir, Bel Canto and finalists of the Woodley Festival of Music.

Soprano soloist Vicky Hudson will give a stirring rendition of extracts from Les Miserables and the Wizard of Oz, while eight-year-old Sebastian Lander will perform a jazz solo on the drums.

Sebastian’s grandfather and Woodley Baptist member Cedrick Lander has organised the event.

He said: “I wanted to put together a musical showcase for charity, so I got in touch with Andy Baker, the minister, who suggested I support Urban Saints.

“I have spent a lot of time in South Africa myself, visiting various townships in the region and I have seen the work that Urban Saints do, it changes lives.”

Tickets for the Musical Spectacular are £10 when bought in advance, family tickets are £20. They can be bought on the door for £12 each.

Tickets are available to buy from Woodley Baptist Church office or by calling 0118 969 9956. Refreshments will be available on the night.

All proceeds go to the Urban Saints trip.