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Students prepare for once-in-a-lifetime trip

By SPP Reporter

The pupils who are off to Belize next year.
The pupils who are off to Belize next year.

A group of senior Wick High School pupils are currently hard at work fundraising for a trip to Belize next summer when they are due to
undertake a range of environmental and community work. They have just received a boost with a letter from St James’s Palace in which Prince Harry wishes them well with the enterprise. While unable to directly support their appeal because of his current RAF commitments, the third in line to the throne sent his best wishes for ‘a fantastic expedition.’ Here one of the pupils, Eilidh Sutherland, of Main Street, Lybster, gives a flavour of what lies ahead of them.

TEN senior pupils, including myself, plan to visit Belize for a month next summer.

Belize is located in central America and is one of the last remaining natural habitats that has been left untouched.

The trip, organised in conjunction with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and AdventuraScotland, is split into three phases.

During the jungle phase, we will be working with Chris Minty, from RBGE, who will train us for our trip. We have the choice in what type of conservation work we would like to carry out: either plant conservation, seed collecting or studying wild animals.

We have yet to decide which takes our fancy. We will be working in the Las Cuevas research station, located in the heart of the Chiquibul Forest.

We will gain a lot from our experience in the jungle, including our gold Duke of Edinburgh award, our John Muir award and our Youth Achievement award, which will benefit us when applying to university later this year.

The second phase is Community Projects. These could involve working in Teakettle school, the local orphanage, hospital or Belize Zoo. This will give us insight into the developing country and the ways in which the people live.

We believe this experience will really open our eyes and allow us to cross boundaries as well as open new horizons to pupils at Wick High School. We hope this trip will encourage future pupils to be part of a fundraising project and see more of the world.

AdventuraScotland will be working with us in the final review stage as we reflect on our projects and how this trip has influenced our future choices.

It will remind us just how much we have achieved (if successful) and give us more insight in to the importance of the rainforest and the negative effects on wildlife if it were to be destroyed.

I believe it will make us realise just how lucky we are living in the UK and give us a whole new appreciation for different cultures.

Our main aim at the moment is to carry out as many fundraising projects as possible, that fit around our school work to raise the £34,000 required for all pupils and two members of staff to go. So far we have raised £2218 through bake sales and written proposals to companies such as E.ON, Statkraft and Fyffes, who have shown an interest in funding us.

Our next fundraising opportunity is a Halloween silent disco for pupils at Wick High School which we hope will make a reasonable profit. We will also be bag-packing over two weekends in the run up to Christmas at the Co-op store while a sponsored walk is in the pipeline.

For more information about the trip’s progress and the people involved, you can visit belize.wickhighschool.org.

? Highland Councillor Gail Ross is fully behind the pupils’ mission.

She said: "I was delighted to attend a presentation by these inspirational pupils about their trip to Belize next year.

"This will be a trip of a lifetime and they are willing to put in a lot of hard work to get there.

"They will be taking part in many different activities whilst they are there, including some that will gain them awards and certificates.

"I would urge everyone to support their fundraising efforts around the town and help them on their way.

"This is the kind of adventure that shows what young people with a ‘can do’ attitude can achieve."

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