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The Great Green Wall Walk by Belhaven Hill School

Raising funds to re-green North Africa and stop the Sahara’s spread

On Saturday, 21st November, children and staff at Belhaven Hill School took part in a sponsored walk along the Dunbar coastline for the Great Green Wall, raising a significant sum for Tree Aid.

The charity is planting an 8,000km wall of trees across North Africa, from east to west, to stop the spread of the Sahara Desert and create a tapestry of green, productive land.

The East Lothian boarding and day prep school, Belhaven Hill, raised £4,810 for Tree Aid from their sponsored walk along the beautiful Dunbar coastline on the John Muir Way. All Belhaven Hill pupils, aged 6 to 13, as well as the school’s staff, took part in the charity walk.

As Georges Bazongo, Director of Operations at Tree Aid, describes the project’s objectives: “Through the Great Green Wall initiative, we’re contributing to a movement that is re-greening the drylands at scale and giving communities more ownership of and rights to natural resources.”

“The Great Green Wall is one of the most urgent movements of our time,” adds Tree Aid’s Community Fundraiser. “In the Sahel region of Africa where we work, people live with the effects of the climate crisis every day. Across all of Tree Aid’s projects we grow trees, restore land, and create green jobs in support of the Great Green Wall.

“Our ongoing contribution to this movement of change is providing futures for millions of people living in poverty. Together we have the power to tackle the devastating effects of the climate crisis and desertification.”

The youngest children at Belhaven Hill walked 2km from Dunbar swimming pool back to the school grounds in Dunbar with older year-groups walking progressively further. Older children walked from Torness Power Station back to the school in Dunbar, hugging the coastal path all the way, a distance of just over 13km.

Eleven children ran the 13km despite the blustery conditions, with the fastest of them completing the distance in one hour 11 minutes.

Mme Brodie, Head of French and the school’s Charity Club, was delighted with how enthusiastic the children were and the amount of money raised for Tree Aid: “The children got together themselves to decide how to go about raising some money and then researched and chose which charity to donate to.

“At a school assembly earlier this term, Mr Townshend, Head of Geography, demonstrated how the Great Green Wall worked with the aid a leaf blower, scrunched up pieces of recycled paper and a willing member of staff on the floor acting as the Great Green Wall!”

The Headmaster, Mr Olly Langton, added: “In a term starved of whole school events, it was an absolute joy to see everyone involved in the sponsored walk. The walk was brilliantly masterminded by Mme Brodie and Mr Pook, Head of Computing and Outdoor Education. They dealt superbly with the logistical challenges of maintaining the bubbles and creating a challenging but enjoyable experience.

“Everyone completed their allotted distance despite an untimely hailstorm at the precise moment when all of them were out on the route at the same time!”

A spokesperson from Tree Aid said: “May I start by saying a massive thank you to all the staff and students at Belhaven Hill school who participated in the fundraising walk and assembly.

“What you have all achieved is truly fantastic and will go such a long way to helping people across the drylands of Africa to grow their way out of poverty. Inspiring work!

“it’s really an amazing thing that’s happening in The Sahel of Africa and it’s great to hear that our young minds are interested by all that’s going on with the Great Green Wall and the wider climate crisis. I think it’s fair to say we’ve seen a lot of action and interest in fighting climate degradation in recent years, especially from the younger generation.”

Tree Aid provides the trees, supplies, training and equipment for the Great Green Wall. The ambitious project aims to plant a wall of trees across central Africa to help prevent further desertification and halt the spread of the Sahara. The project began in 2007 and, to date, over 20 million trees have been planted, changing the local landscape but also providing jobs and livelihoods for thousands of local villagers.

If you would like to donate to the Great Green Wall, please go to this JustGiving page at:

You can read more on the Belhaven Hill School website.


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