Fundraising drive for Skye and Thai charities

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Gill with some of the orphanage girls in November 2015

A group of Thai children are set to arrive on Skye later this month during a fundraising drive that will benefit an orphanage in their country through the Hands Across the Water charity and also a cause closer to home, Skye Young Carers.

Local organisers have already opened their drive with a silent auction, the prizes for which include seven nights in self-catering accommodation in Waternish, lunch at the Three Chimneys restaurant, tours of the Talisker distillery and Dunvegan Castle, an Oysterman Experience, a Skye Seaplane flight and a SkyeSkyns rug – all for two people. The auction runs until 7pm on Friday 15th April.

Next is the Grand Dinner on Saturday 16th April in Waternish Hall between 7pm and 11pm. This will be a sit-down three course dinner, raffle, updates on HATWUK and Skye Young Carers and guests including three children from the orphanage in Thailand who will be singing and dancing during the evening.

One of the main organisers of the fundraising drive is Gill Williams, who was a police officer with Thames Valley Police when she was tasked with taking charge of a victim recovery and identification team in Thailand in the aftermath of the Indonesian tsunami in 2004.

During her deployment Gill became aware of a number of Thai children who had become orphaned. Many had lost complete families, homes and villages with nobody to care for them. At the time they were living in a large tent which was to be their permanent home unless something could be done. Gill held discussions with staff at an orphanage, plans were drawn up and she decided to raise £50,000 to build a proper home for the children. The charity Hands Across the Water UK was formed to raise this money. The Thai Treasury agreed to equal this amount and so a much larger building was planned. Very quickly, the money was raised through charity events, challenges, talks and just spreading awareness. On the 29th August 2006 the Baan Tharn Namchai Orphanage was officially opened.

Gill said: “For the past three years I have organised cycle rides to raise money including two 500 mile rides across Thailand finishing at the orphanage and last year a Tour de Scotland ride. These rides consist mainly of people from Skye. This year our Tour de Scotland ride begins on Tuesday 13th September from Newtonmore travelling through Pitlochry, Crianlarich, Connel, Fort William and back to Newtonmore over five days. There will be 10 cyclists – all apart from one are from Skye and two support crew also from Skye. All cyclists are helping to run the dinner. One of the cyclists, Spencer Robson is planning to ride unsupported from Land’s End to John O’ Groats at the beginning of June. The Thai children arrive on Skye on Thursday 14th April and stay until Friday 22nd April. All they want is snow!”

Go to www.jumblebee.co.uk/helpingchildreninthaiandskye for more details about the auction. So far, it total stands at £1,310.

Contact Gill or Ian Williams on 01470 592732 or email gillwilliams@hotmail.co.uk for more information and tickets.