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free@last Interact Rotary Club

This week we were very proud to launch our Interact Rotary Club at free@last. This is a youth version of the long established Rotary Club, an international organisation that aims to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. over many years, Erdington Rotary Club have graciously supported free@last and they have now sponsored the establishment and continued development of our Interact Club.

We currently have 6 young people, aged 13 to 15, who meet bi-weekly, to discuss how they are going to raise money, and then who they are going to give it to! As an organisation, we are hugely proud that our young people are passionate about financially supporting other young people, adults and animals in need and they are looking forward to being able to give small grants away, particularly to other youth clubs in Birmingham.

The young people are enjoying the roles they have been elected to fulfill, and to learn the necessary skills to perform to the highest of their abilities. they are ably assisted by the lovely Pam Collins, who has volunteer to be the link person between the Erdington Club and our Interact Club, being present at both sets of meetings.

At the Launch event, Rotary’s District Governor, Bala Jaspal and Erdington’s President, Ann Wassall, presented our members with their pin badges and medals – President – Charisma, VP – Decrae, Secretary – Chantelle, Treasurer – Alex, Members – Mya & Ethan. These are very exciting times, which we are all looking forward to seeing where our Interact’s take us.

if you want more information about supporting or joining our Interact group, please speak to John Street, Pam Collins or any of our Interact members.


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Summer Residentials

We had 3 awesome residentials this summer, with 12 primary aged lads going to Preston Montford Study Centre in Shrewsbury; 11 teenagers going surfing in North Devon and 34 people, representing 11 families, camping in Tenby, South Wales.

The primary residential boys had so many things to do, see and learn throughout the three days away. Our children learnt the importance of listening, following instructions, respecting the countryside and its animals, how to communicate with each other, work in teams, be responsible for each other and for each other’s space. They also learnt how to trap mammal’s, identify species and how to set them free after. During the pond dipping session, they also identifying the different creature’s living in the water, and when they went into the woods, they learnt how to catch different types of bugs. The highlight of the day for the young people was building a shelter and starting a fire – an excellent adventure for all.

The secondary residential took us to the North Devon coast, to explore, breathe the fresh air, have fun and learn how to ride the waves on a surf board! We stayed at a retreat house on Coombe Martin High Street and after a long journey down we began our stay on the local beach. Some braved the sea whilst others didn’t! Our teenagers quickly made friends with the local young people, who showed us the local sights (a cliff top and the children’s park), which entertained them for an evening. Croyde Beach was the setting for our surf lesson and after a huge amount of coercion for some young people, all 14 of us were wetsuited and booted, heading towards the waves. It was a great lesson, which EVERYONE thoroughly enjoyed and 2 even managed to stand up on their boards.

We ended the day with fish & chips in Woolacombe and a visit to Ilfracombe, and on the final day we enjoyed a walk around Lynmouth and a visit to the ice-cream parlour. A very memorable few days, made possible by our 2 volunteers coming along, Sarah Birch and Luke Street – thank you.

The family residential was 4 days in the stunning Pembroke town of Tenby. The journey down was eventful, with 1 minibus clutch breaking and having to hire a van at Monmouth! When we eventually arrived, first things first, as this was a camping holiday, the challenge was to find a suitable space for 10 tents and 2 marquees! Having settled into our camp during the first day, we had a couple of wonderful days venturing onto Tenby’s famous south beach and then time on Caldey Island. There were 34 of us, from 10 families and everyone worked amazingly well together. On our last night the weather turned for the worst and camping on a cliff top, with no weather protection, meant that the wind and rain came pouring into our field. Within minutes the strong force of the wind had broken the poles on 1 tent, with 2 or 3 others on their way out, and the rain had seeped through into 2 others. At 9pm, in the dark and gale force storm we made the right decision to pack down and travel home. This whole experience really bonded the families as we created some amazing memories that will never be forgotten, and a real desire to go and do it again!

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Mount Kilimanjaro

12 months ago, on a free at last​ fundraiser (the Oddball Run), Steven Quance​ and I decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain in the world. Little did either of us know the extent of the journey we would travel, or that it would become a journey shared with 6 other amazing people – Nikky Brand,​ Naomi Spencer,​ Nigel Evans​, Alex Evans​, Stuart James​, Ollie Cooper​

Being the lover of mountains that I am, I felt prepared for everything that we were about to face, with my only concern being my reaction to altitude. On arrival at the first camp I had a splitting headache and shivering, thinking the worse that I had altitude sickness and would end my journey here. It turned out to be a shortage of caffeine and a release of adrenaline from finally starting this epic journey.

Everything was going fine until an hour into day 3 when I stepped up onto a boulder, and as I stepped down the other side I landed awkwardly on a smaller stone and went over on my left ankle. I heard 2 cracks and again presumed my challenge was over.

If you know me well, you will know I am very stubborn and with a mind over muscle/matter mentality I walked Pole Pole (slowly slowly) to the next camp. Steve and Stu helped me get my boot off and realised this was not a simple sprain. Nevertheless, I had no intention of turning around and with grit, determination, stubbornness, team support, prayer and an awful lot of ibroprofen, I made it to the summit of Kilimanjaro with my awesome team.

I climb mountains because I love being surrounded by God’s creation, and I climbed Kili to be at over 4000 metres before I’m 50 and to raise funds for free@last. With your continued support we are heading towards an amazing amount of money, to which I am truly thankful.

The things we do at free@last require us to be visionary, committed, passionate and stubborn, which reflects my life on the mountain. But we also need a huge amount of help, which we received from the team and our new G Adventure family. You can still be involved with our Kili experience and sponsor my insane journey of summiting Kilimanjaro with a fractured/broken/sprained foot (the hospital are dealing with any blood clotting first before they unearth the true damage of the ankle).

Please continue to financially support us: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-street-kili

One of our sponsors, Plan {b} Creative has also written a short piece about the climb, have a read here.

Thank you for all you have done. Enjoy the photos and please share this post as much as you can.

John 🙂



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