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Wickersley pub landlord receives international award for charity work

The general manager from a pub in Wickersley, has received ‘International Project of the Year’ award from the President of a global charity for the charity work he and his colleagues have undertaken.

Les Hince, who is general manager of The Three Horseshoes in Wickersley near Rotherham, which is owned and operated by the award-winning Stonegate Pub Company, is chairman of fund raising of the local Bramley and Wickersley Lions branch of Lions International charity. The charity, whose patron for the British Isles is HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO, aims to supports struggling communities both home and abroad with financial and practical assistance.

Les, who has worked tirelessly as a volunteer fundraiser for causes in African countries for sixteen years, was praised alongside his colleagues at Bramley and Wickersley Lions for their project supporting children in Gambia over the last twelve months. Together they contacted sixteen local schools from across Yorkshire and co-ordinated for 450,000 pairs of shoes, 500,000 school and reading books and 100 crates of clothing and toys to be donated to schools and communities in Gambia. The Bramley and Wickersley Lions arranged for the shoes, books, clothes and toys, along with a jeep, donated by Brian Dixon, general manager of fellow Stonegate Pub Company pub, Salthouse Tavern in Hull, to be loaded onto a container at the pub and shipped to Banjul in Gambia.

Les and eight of his colleagues from the local Lions branch flew to Gambia where they met with the Deputy President of Gambia and Gambia’s Ministers for Education, for Customs and Excise and for Health. The government agreed to waiver all customs duty for the donations and offered to arrange for three army vehicles and soldiers to assist the Lions with all future aid dispersal projects they undertake in the country. The Bramley and Wickersley branch of Lions International, the first Lions group to work in The Gambia and South Senegal, was given charity status in Gambia during the visit.

Despite the award the Lions have no intention of stopping and are already busy planning the next shipment to Gambia to arrive in February 2014. Fundraising is currently taking place to supply twenty schools in Gambia with old refurbished computer equipment alongside the very necessary daily essentials such as shoes and clothes. Lions Internationals’ current project for 2013/14 is to ensure every child in Africa is vaccinated against measles. Through his contacts with the Gambian Department of Health, Les Hince is hoping to be co-ordinating this effort for the African country.

“We have come such a long way from sixteen years ago when we made our first visit to Africa. I never dreamt when I started out with a couple of suitcases of children’s shoes that a pub landlord like myself could develop a charity project this far. I’m really proud of what we have achieved in that time and excited at the potential of what we can still do”, said Les Hince. “The generosity of people, often despite their own hardship, is humbling. We are currently looking for more schools, associations and pubs to join us in our on-going project. Whether as an individual or a group we welcome support in all sorts of ways, to fundraise, through donating goods, by helping us load the container or even coming to The Gambia to help distribute the goods to the schools and communities.”

The Bramley and Wickersley Lions, which is based at The Three Horseshoes in Wickersley, has also been awarded ‘Lions International Club of Excellence’ award for its outstanding work supporting those within their local community.

Commenting on the award wins, Lions International President Brian Yeoman said “We as Lions recognise the hard work that go in to projects both home and abroad and in Les accepting both these awards on behalf of Bramley and Wickersley Lions shows not only that it is recognised, but that exciting times are ahead of us.”

If you would like be involved with Lions International’s Bramley and Wickersley branch or would like to offer a donation of your time, equipment or resources please contact les.hince@sky.com or visit www.bwlions.org.uk