Sheringham Primary School teacher set to embark on “life-changing” trip to Jamaica

Sheringham Primary School teacher Helen West, who, in her role as a Guide leader, will be travelling

Sheringham Primary School teacher Helen West, who, in her role as a Guide leader, will be travelling to Jamaica to help out at an orphanage for youngsters rescued from abuse, neglect and poverty. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

A north Norfolk primary school teacher will be jetting off to Jamaica with a team of fellow Guide leaders in a few weeks, to help brighten the lives of youngsters rescued from poverty, neglect, abandonment and abuse.

Helen West, who has worked at Sheringham Primary since qualifying as a teacher in 1996, has led Brownie and Guide units since the age of 19.

She now juggles the demands of teaching with leading the 1st Suffield Park Guides and the 2nd Sheringham Guides, whom she has taken on camping weekends and trips to pop concerts, theme parks and tourist attractions.

Miss West has also led trips to Sweden and accompanied Guides on visits to France, Switzerland and Canada.

'I love it,' she said. 'I see a completely different side of the girls, they can be themselves, take risks in safe environment and it gives them a huge amount of confidence and a chance to do things they might otherwise not get to do.'

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On August 6, she will be travelling to the Jamaica National Children's Home, in the country's capital, Kingston, with 18 Guide and Brownie leaders from all over the east of England.

The home comprises a special school catering for 140 children with additional needs, a unit for 35 profoundly disabled youngsters and a dormitory section for nearly 80 seven-18-year olds where the Guiding team will spend a week working.

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As well as helping to care for the children, they will be cleaning and renovating the dormitory, decorating the bathrooms and working in the orphanage garden.

'It was just something I really wanted to do,' Miss West, 44, said. 'I had heard people say that working in an orphanage had changed their lives and, for me, it was a way of getting an amazing experience, at the same time as giving something back.'

As well as helping cover the cost of materials, the group of leaders, who are paying their own expenses, will be taking along stencils and sponges to brighten the orphanage walls.

After a week of hard work, they will have the opportunity to take time out to visit attractions including the Bob Marley Museum and Dolphin Cove and go rafting on the Rio Grande river.

'It is an opportunity to do things I've never done before and do some really worthwhile work,' Miss West said.

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