(article taken from last week’s newsletter)

Since October 2014, Sharples School and the Rotary Club of Bolton le Moors have been working closely together in order to enhance the experience of Sharples students.

Starting with mock interviews, the highlight of Bolton le Moors Rotary Club’s relationship was the design and project management of the our Singadia Observatory by Club Secretary Roy Gibbins. The Observatory was opened by BBC astronomer Mark Thompson –  in December 2015 – and is now a most valued asset to the school in expanding the curriculum as a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics [STEM] School.

As the relationship prospered, members of Bolton le Moors joined the school PTA. We supported the school in sending pupils to the District 1285 Science Lectures, Youth Speaks and Technology Tournament and helped them in fundraising for the Observatory which cost around £30,000; Roy’s contribution being completely free of cost. Additionally, three Rotarians became “Dragons” at a Super Learning Day when pupils were tasked with designing equipment for people with disabilities.

This year, after being in existence for just 12months, the nascent Interact Club at the school, received its formal charter from Rotary International in Chicago . The Sharples School Interact Club is now part of the worldwide Rotary organisation. https://rotarygbi.org/

Since the inaugural meeting of the Interact Club in February 2016, the pupils are working to support a sand dam as their International Project and for Community Service they have assisted with the concept of downloading music for use in the Bolton le Moors Dementia Project.

A sand dam ( http://www.excellentdevelopment.com/home ) is a reinforced stone masonry wall built across a seasonal sandy river. They are a simple, cheap, low maintenance technology that retains rainwater and recharges groundwater – creating a buffer against periods of drought and enabling smallholder farmers to invest in climate-smart agriculture.

During the rainy season, a seasonal river forms that carries soil (made up of silt and sand) downstream. The heavier sand accumulates behind the dam while the lighter silt is carried downstream. A mature sand dam stores up to 40 million litres of water – supporting nearby communities with a year-round, local water source for multiple use. The water is protected from contamination, evaporation and disease vectors from mosquitoes and freshwater snails. They are widely suited to dryland regions of the world.

Within one to four rainy seasons, the dam completely fills with sand. But, up to 40% of the volume behind the dam is actually water which is trapped in the pores between sand particles. Each rainy season, the water stored by the sand dam is replenished.

The great advantage (in remote areas) is that children no longer have to accompany their mothers to collect water every day, and therefore have time to go to school. The mothers no longer have to trek for up to four hours each day to collect water, and can now begin to cultivate crops using the water behind the dam. They can begin to feed themselves reliably with the time they save not traveling to collect water. Water is now also available for livestock, so meat and milk become more accessible.

Bolton le Moors Rotary is happy to use the expertise and skills of its membership to not only support Sharples School, but also other community based projects in Bolton…and around the world! The Rotary Club is constantly looking for people possessing skills and abilities that can be used on behalf of those less fortunate than ourselves in the local community. If you feel you have something to offer, have a look at https://youtu.be/Ubqc7_MnBeE and if you like the idea, get in touch with Paul Wightman on 07762 905321

Our relationship with the Sharples School is prospering and we are very proud to see the implanting of the Rotary ideals of service to our communities in the young people of Bolton.