After months of preparation, seven Oundle pupils had the honour of performing a musical production at the opening of a new hall and theatre at Ngecho School in Gilgil, Kenya.
Ngecho School was founded in 2006 by Harambee Schools Kenya (HSK) to provide children with affordable secondary education. When Ms Naomi Jones and a group of Oundle pupils visited in 2015, a school hall was in development, and it was suggested that the facility would benefit from a raised stage with backstage facilities that could be used by the school, as well as provide income-generating opportunities.
Having deciding to take on the project, over the course of a year Ms Jones organised fundraising that raised more than £33,000 from bake sales, costume sales, a buy-a- brick incentive, a Stahl open day and donations from audiences at the school production of Les Miserable. Substantial donations from General Sir Richard Shirreff, who was born in Kenya and attended Oundle School, as well as from the Donald Forrester Trust, meant the green light could be given.
The hall and the Stahl-sponsored stage at Ngecho Secondary School was officially opened on February 19, and was named after the Harambee Schools Trust past Chairman, Clifford Dann.
As part of the open day celebration, Oundle partnered with two local schools to inaugurate the new stage with a musical production.
Originally commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund 35 years ago, Yanomamo, by Peter Rose and Anne Conlon, is a vibrant musical about the Amazon rainforest; a celebration of the extraordinary wildlife that co-exists alongside the Yanomamo Indian tribe, and the threat to their way of life presented by encroaching cattle ranchers.
The script was split into three parts and performed in sections by Oundle, Pembroke House School and Ngecho School. The Oundle segment was directed by Sophie Lee (L), with musical direction by James Thomas.
In addition to the open day at Gilgil, Oundle performed in three different venues: the Governor's Camp at the Masai Mara, where they also enjoyed a safari, the Vanessa Grant School for Girls in Rongai, and Pembroke House School.
During the week in Kenya, the group was also able to visit the Gigil Special School for children with disabilities, and the Restart Centre for orphaned and abandoned children.