In August 2010 we were lucky enough to be involved in the World Jamboree for Burn Children which was hosted by the United Kingdom Burn Clubs at Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire, England.
The first two days of our trip we were hosted by the Canadian Burn Foundation at the Jury’s Inn in Hotel in London. For two days there were three South Africans and six Canadians taking in the sights of London. This experience alone was a lifetime experience.
On day three we travelled to Stansted where we met up with the rest of the participants who were from Russia, Korea, Czech Republic, England and Wales, as well as the Canadians who we had been with for the two previous days.
Opening ceremonies took place the next day at the magnificent City Hall in London. This was the first time the City Hall had been open on a Saturday for such an event. Greetings from the Right Honourable Boris Johnston, Mayor of London, were read and we were greeted in true fashion by the Fire Chief from Bedfordshire, Paul Fuller, and representatives of the London Fire Brigade.
Following lunch and photos we then walked across the famous Tower Bridge and were welcomed by Beefeaters for a grand tour of the Tower of London. This attraction was an amazing experience for everyone and we were delighted to have been given such attention by our hosts. We even received a viewing of the Crown Jewels and the famous “Star of Africa” cut from the Cullinan diamond. Following a visit to the famous Tower we were whisked off to the south side of the river where we were treated to a ride on the Millennium Wheel, towering some 135 metres over the river Thames and giving us a view of the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey to mention a few.
The following day we went by bus to Grafham Water where groups were selected and team building continued. The facility was top class, as were the team leaders. Throughout the week the children participated in such events as Windsurfing, raft building, canoeing and kayaking, a 16km bicycle ride, and challenge courses. Friends were made and participants self image grew every day. Children and adults were teaching each other how to greet and say please and thank you in many languages and every day brought smiles galore.
On the final day everyone went to see the play “Stomp” which was a delight and held at the Ambassadors Theatre. Following that we had three hours of free time to shop in London’s famous areas, such as Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden. Shopping and sightseeing with new found friends was a really rewarding experience, and lots of fun.
Finally the coach picked us up in the Haymarket and we had a short bus ride and guided tour around London, ending up at a farewell dinner at the Mayfair Hotel. This famous and prestigious hotel is almost 200 years old and was the real icing on the cake from our hosts.
We left the group and spent one more day in London, taking the kids on an educational tour to see the Prime Meridian (Greenwich Mean Time) and the Cutty Sark, a tour of Canary Wharf and a ferry trip along the Thames. The next day some very tired campers and chaperones were on their way back to their own countries. This Jamboree is a truly life changing experience and has resulted in children, young and old, making new friends and learning to accept their differences and similarities with others from around the world.
Although the names are too many to mention a special thank you has to go to Dave Webster and Karen Reed of the UK Burns Club for all their time and effort to make this the fantastic success it was, and to our sister organization the Canadian Burn Foundation who provided support and encouragement throughout.
We are proud that South Africa has been chosen to host the next Jamboree which will be held in Cape Town, in August 2010. Finally, thank you on behalf of the children to all of our sponsors who made this trip possible. We hope to see you in Cape Town in 2012 and look forward to our continued partnerships.