Five students have travelled to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in the Caribbean to help with relief efforts following the unprecedented devastation of Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
Under the banner Mission BVI, Beccy Horgan Davison, 18, her brother Henry Horgan Davison, 16, Eliza McKendry, 19, Henry Belfiori, 19 and Steph Treanor, 18, are volunteering their time and talents to support the community efforts alongside the not-for-profit foundation Unite BVI.
The siblings are from Whalton and they have gone to the BVI on family holidays almost annually since 2008.
Beccy is the leader of their volunteer project. She met Steph, from Ponteland, when they both attended Dame Allan’s School and she met Eliza and Henry Belfiori at Northumbria University.
They flew out from London Gatwick on Saturday for a two-week stint.
Based on Virgin Gorda, the teenagers are supporting a major scale community clean-up and working with local schools to re-establish the art and culture department, teaching about the importance of recycling and helping with various sport initiatives for after school clubs.
Before they set-off, Beccy said: “The scale of damage caused by Hurricane Irma last year greatly affected me on a personal level and we quickly put the group together because we wanted to go out there and help.
“We tried to arrange to go there in October, but were told we couldn’t because there were major issues with electricity and the water supply, and there wouldn’t be any accommodation for us.
“I kept making inquiries and after someone I know in BVI was able to get us accommodation, Unite BVI was able to give us a two-week period to come out and help.
“Going out there in March has meant we could work multiple jobs to fully pay for our costs.”
The team has been actively fund-raising to make a financial contribution to the region and more than £7,000 has been raised online at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bvi-relief?utm_term=8gepmAWdJ
In addition, a further £1,500 was raised at a raffle that was supported by a range of businesses at The Chillingham in Heaton.
Henry Belfiori said: “We’re all quite nervous about going out there and seeing what the place looks like first-hand, but also excited about the work we will be doing.
“We hope the children continue with the things we teach them and talk to them about, particularly recycling and the environment, after we’ve left.”
They will be providing updates via a missionBVI Facebook page and at www.instagram.com/missionbvi/?hl=en