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

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPERATION SUNSHINE -

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.

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Pack­ing up sup­plies for the con­tainer

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Rose­mary Hil­lier and Mar­garet Want with sew­ing ma­chines

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