Family gives gift of education to town

IT was the trip of a lifetime which put smiles on the faces of an entire African village.

IT was the trip of a lifetime which put smiles on the faces of an entire African village.

Ipswich businessman Steve Flory has arrived back in the UK after a charitable mission to build and open a primary school in the heart of Tanzania.

Mr Flory, who lives of Foxhall Road, travelled to the remote town of Njipanda with his wife Jayne, daughter Brogan and Brogan's boyfriend Stefan Marsh, both 17.

Mr Flory set up the Ipswich call centre business Ansaback, based in Ransomes Europark, and now owns Suffolk companies Hudson Signs Ltd and Corporate Colours on the Lion Barn Industrial Estate in Needham Market,.

Together the charitable four witnessed the official unveiling of the purpose-built three-classroom facility.

The mission was made possible due to a donation made by Mr Flory and the generosity of several East Anglian businesses.

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The 49-year-old heard about the quest by Suffolk charity DMKA to build a much needed primary school for an anticipated intake of around 60 children and was instantly interested.

He agreed to sponsor the building work, which started in late 2007 with the intention of opening by the end of May this year.

However building the English language school was only the first part of the problem; it then had to be kitted out with equipment.

Mr Flory, along with close friend Matthew Lidbetter, then trekked to Everest base camp to raise money for the equipment.

He said: “I was really touched by the idea that this particular charity wanted to create a building for some very deserving people in Tanzania.

“Matthew and I started approaching local organisations like Call Connection, Isaacs, Skar Precision Moulding and Ipswich East Rotary - who were only too happy to support the initiative.”

As the trip grew nearer, Mr Flory was inundated with generous donations from many other Suffolk-based companies including Ryan Insurance and Bentek who wanted to support the official school opening.

Ipswich Town Football Club donated three full Youth Team strips, while other firms provided toys and sports equipment.

Mr Flory said: “We had anticipated around 60 children registering, but in the end, some 211 schoolchildren signed up to be a part of the great new era.

“Our hosts treated us to a special ceremony, and as many as 300 people had travelled on foot from neighbouring villages to be part of the occasion. It was completely overwhelming and very emotional.”

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CONSTRUCTION of the Njipanda school was made even more personal for Mr Flory and his family when it was dedicated to Mrs Flory's late father and a plaque was placed in the school.

Mr Flory said: “Jayne's father sadly died late in 2006 so we felt it would be a great tribute to instigate the dedication as we know he would have been enormously proud.

“This school will make such a difference to the lives of so many young people and I feel really proud to have played such a part in bringing it to life.

“The people there were amazing. They've got nothing yet they're never short of a smil on their face. There's a lesson for us all in that.”

The school in Njipanda is now twinned with Broke Hall Primary in Chatsworth Drive, Ipswich, so Ipswich has a lasting connection with its new African friends, while Ipswich East Rotary Club has pledged to raise further funds for the new school.