Clouds form over Sunshine’s future
The charity Operation Sunshine has just four weeks to find new premises. With much sadness volunteers have to leave the base at Shorncliffe Army camp which they have used for nearly 20 years. Jane Barlow and photographer Gary Browne went along to watch vo
TEDDIES, blankets, bandages, sewing machines and tools were all packed into a 40ft container to be taken to needy families in Zimbabwe. A team of volunteers worked steadily in the rain and cold to load the goods which are desperately needed by those who have little or no money to buy such items. The container, which was also packed with food, wheelchairs, crutches, pots and pans, is the second to last that will be packed at the Operation Sunshine headquarters in Royal Military Avenue, Folkestone. One more container will leave the depot for Zambia in March and then the charity has to move out by the end of the month. The Ministry of Defence, which has leased the site at a peppercorn rent, said the charity has to leave for health and safety reasons. The former artillery stores, which were built around 1890, have fallen into disrepair. The charity has viewed more than 20 alternative sites, but none has been suitable. There is the possibility that one in West Hythe might become available, but with nothing definite in the pipeline the search continues. Ken Tee, chairman of the Operation Sunshine trustees, said: “If anyone has any idea of where we might be able to go we would like them to get in touch. We need about 1,000 square feet. We need somewhere to do the packing and a small kitchen space. We are still hopeful.” Operation Sunshine was started 22 years ago by Sheila Lloyd of Folkestone and Kathy Harding, who was at the time living in Exeter, but now lives in Zambia, where she grew up. Mrs Lloyd won an MBE in 2003 for her international aid work. It all began when they were amazed at how much was left unsold following a charity jumble sale. Mrs Harding decided to send the leftovers to Zambia and the idea grew from there. Operation Sunshine now sends aid to 13 African countries, and with each container costing the charity between £3,000 and £8,000 to send much support comes from local churches. Lea Shaw, vice-chairman of the charity, said: “We have been here such a long time it will be sad to leave. We are hoping we will find somewhere else and be able to continue. We have been blessed with the premises here and we would like to thank the MoD. “It is a wonderful charity. You see things on television and wish you could do something to help and we are in a position where we can.
Anyone who can offer help to Operation Sunshine is asked to phone 01303 250132.
Packing up supplies for the container
Rosemary Hillier and Margaret Want with sewing machines