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Sierra Leone trip WCS Wells Cathedral School Independent Prep Somerset England

Sierra Leone trip

During the autumn half Term, 15 pupils were accompanied by four members of staff on the School’s annual trip to Sierra Leone. 

Each day, everyone split into two groups with one half working with the JT Reffel French Memorial School to teach French, Spanish and drama games, and the musical half working with the Ballanta Academy of Music and Performing Arts to teach different instruments and collaborate with musicians and bands. The cohort received an invitation to perform at a memorial for the former British High Commissioner, Peter Penfold, who was instrumental in developing the partnership between the School and Ballanta when the Sierra Leone Project began in 2009. 

Across the ten days, they spent afternoons performing outreach concerts in venues across the capital of Freetown, including the recently constructed auditorium our Project supported at the Ballanta. Pupils felt the true power of music at the SOS Children village orphanage and the Milton Margai School for the Blind, and were even invited to perform at a private property by the current British High Commissioner, Mrs Lisa Chesney.

It was a lot of hard work in extreme heat and humidity for the group, but it was rewarded with fantastic new friendships and pupils recognised how fortunate they are to attend Wells.

Ms Desmarchelier, the Sierra Leone Project manager, said on her return; “It was by far the toughest trip I have organised as I worried about the effects of the heat on our pupils, but nothing will take away the pride I have for the standard of delivery of their music, their teaching sessions, and for the way they embraced the experience and took everything in their stride.”

For Ms Desmarchelier, it was an emotional trip as she is taking a step back; although she will continue to stay at the helm of the Project and organise the trip, she will not be going for a few years so that other members of staff have the opportunity to discover this amazing place. As she says, “Once you have experienced Salone, it stays in your heart forever.”