Rams in Kenya fundraiser Ben Crowley-Wade is going to new lengths to try and hit his target for next year’s trip by wearing a Nottingham Forest shirt in the home end when Derby County take on their rivals.
Ben, a 16-year-old lifelong Derby County fan, will wear the Forest shirt in the North West Corner at Pride Park Stadium for the match. A season ticket holder, Ben’s usual seat in the South Stand has been exchanged for a more family-friendly location.
In order to raise the funds needed for Kenya, Ben has a £2,000 target which will allow him to return to the schools and children he helped when he was a volunteer on this year’s trip, with his mum Marie Crowley.
Ben, whose hearing is impaired and wears hearing aids in both ears, said, “I’m very nervous because of the thought of how intense it is between fans and players on the pitch. Knowing I will be sitting wearing a shirt of a team Derby fans do not like will be hard to do.
“However, I used to sit in the North West Stand last season and know everyone around there. I told them this is happening. They are friendly and supportive of me doing this.”
Rather than eat into his fundraising budget to buy a shirt, Ben has borrowed a grey Forest away shirt from their 2013-14 campaign from a friend.
The overall Kenya trip will consist of a team of around 60 volunteers, teachers and staff from Derby County Community Trust. The project has been running since 2012 and volunteers, teachers and coaches will be split into groups to work at three different schools.
Both Ben and Marie will return to continue the work they started this year, and have already raised £1,000 towards their overall total. They will work at the Jubilee School in Kenya, where they were also based this year.
“Jubilee School and the children in it have had a profoundly affected my confidence,” Ben said.
“It has shown me that we are all very lucky in the UK having such wonderful access to an education compared to the children at Jubilee who really had nothing, sometimes not even a chair to sit on.”
Ben Crowley-Wade and mum Marie Crowley made the trip to Kenya last May. Marie added: “The school has children there from three up to 19. In comparison to our schools they are at the other end of the spectrum. You can get children sharing a pen, there are no chairs and they sit on the ground. But they are so eager to learn – they are like sponges.
“The children there are so happy even though they do not have anything and do not expect anything. You can’t help but be swept away with the experience and they are so warming. There’s no way you can never go back.”
Marie is planning to sit next to Ben during the game with a sign which will say, “My mum made me do this.”
She added: “Having impaired hearing, he has to wear hearing aids in both ears. He might have to take his hearing aids out so he can’t hear any abuse!”
They both need to hit a £2,000 target to cover all the costs incurred on the trip, and Marie said they plan to raise money up until February by selling goods at car boot sales and by organising charity discos.
The Kenya trip is co-ordinated by Paul Newman, Community Manager at Derby County Community Trust.
He said: “Ben’s the only one doing this crazy idea. We have spoken to all safety teams at the club and they are confident they can handle it.
“It is these innovative ideas that will get him to raise extra money. Last year we helped complete three classrooms and provided labour in any way we could.
“Coaches from the Trust will be trying to raise the standard of PE and we will take graduate teachers and get them to teach core subjects out there.”
If you are interested in finding out more about the Kenya trip or signing up, contact Paul Newman by 15th October at [email protected].
If you want to support Ben’s efforts before the Rams take on Forest this weekend, his JustGiving page is active here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/marie-crowley2 or you can text KAWF87 £10 to 70070.