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Trophy joy for couple's caring mission

PUBLISHED: 11:15 09 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:34 06 July 2010

Some of the children in Bulgaria who have benefited from the efforts of Brian and Sheila Hunter, Rotary and other supporters.

Some of the children in Bulgaria who have benefited from the efforts of Brian and Sheila Hunter, Rotary and other supporters.

A PROJECT in which people and organisations in the Lowestoft area raised more than £15,000 to help children in an impoverished area of Bulgaria has won a major award.

A PROJECT in which people and organisations in the Lowestoft area raised more than £15,000 to help children in an impoverished area of Bulgaria has won a major award.

Brian Hunter and his wife Sheila were on holiday in Bulgaria in 2004 when they visited a kindergarten and saw for themselves the acute shortage of equipment and funds.

The couple were visiting the village of Medovo with their Bulgarian friend Kamen Filipov, who with other residents had volunteered to help with the kindergarten and primary school's refurbishment.

Mr Hunter said: “My wife and I were determined to see if we could help in any way, and when we got back to this country asked Lowestoft Rotary Club for help.

“The club and other organisations in the Waveney area have been very supportive, and the project received a boost when the local Rotary club in Pomorie, on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast, also gave its support.”

Over the past five years there have been many fundraising events in the Lowestoft area for the Pomorie Schools Project.

And, with the help of Rotary clubs in Lowestoft and Pomorie, Mr and Mrs Hunter have been able to hand over £15,802 to the volunteers working at the school in Medovo and nearby establishments.

At the Rotary 1080 conference at Thetford, involving clubs from Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridge, the Promorie Schools Project was awarded the international John Grant Trophy.

Mr Hunter, a former leader of Waveney District Council, received the award from former cabinet minister and South Norfolk MP Lord MacGregor.

“It is a wonderful honour to receive the trophy because there were some outstanding international projects organised by other Rotary clubs

from all over the region,” said Mr Hunter.

The couple were full of praise for the backing they had received from people and organisations in the Lowestoft area.

“I would like to thank everyone who has supported Sheila and myself in this project.

“We would also like to thank staff at Co-op Travel, in Westgate department store, for all their help and assistance,” said Mr Hunter.

After suffering a stroke, Mrs Hunter has rebuilt her life with support from friends in this country and in Bulgaria.

“I wanted to help these children in Bulgaria as I was helped when I visited the country,” she said.

“Everyone can now see that their fundraising efforts have made a huge difference to these children.”

Three weeks ago, the Hunters returned to Bulgaria with 18 members and friends from Lowestoft Rotary Club to see how the project had progressed.

“We may not have changed the world, but for the schools, children and communities around Pomorie this has made a difference - and this could not have happened without the support of the people of Lowestoft,” said Mr Hunter.

Fundraising events for the project have included:

Sponsored walks, raising £1,533.

Donations from the Waveney District Council chairman's

appeal fund and Lord Kinnock of Bedwellty - the former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock - totalling

£600.

Several Bulgarian dinner evenings in Lowestoft, raising £2,030.

Match-funding from Rotary International and a Rotary District 1080 foundation grant of £500.

A variety show organised by Lowestoft entertainer Kenny Cantor, which added £1,136 to the total.

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