Walking sticks for African amputees

Robin Gray and Derek Tomblin
Robin Gray and Derek Tomblin

GENEROUS townsfolk have donated hundreds of old walking sticks in response to a twinning group’s appeal to help African civil war victims in Sierra Leone.

Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link teamed up with film-maker Michele D’Acosta to try and collect as many walking aids as possible in order to transform the lives of amputees in Hastings’s African namesake.

Hastings in Sierra Leone includes an area known as Amputee Village which is home to dozens of people either suffering from polio or who were injured as a result of land mines or being caught up in the region’s vicious fighting.

Robin Gray, secretary of the friendship link, said: “There has been a wonderful response to our appeal.

“Families in Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill donated dozens of walking sticks, some crutches and a wheelchair.

“The Conquest Hospital gave 260 crutches, and the Horder Centre in Crowborough kindly donated another 100. St Michael’s Hospice passed on five wheelchairs, and another fine wheelchair was given by Mark Pons, of Ghyllside Mobility. The mobility aids will be stored for a few days at Respond Academy, and then shipped out via Tilbury for distribution to amputees, to be distributed by Operation Rise in Sierra Leone on September 21.”

Derek Tomblin, vice-chairman of the link, said: “These sticks, crutches and wheelchairs will make a fantastic difference to the lives of amputees and polio victims in Hastings Village and beyond.

“We are very grateful to local residents, who once again responded magnificently, and to the Observer and its editor-in-chief Keith Ridley, who backed our appeal.”