Fleet blogger joins McCall and Ross for Comic ReliefBy Stephen Lloyd
February 27, 2013
A MOTHER of three joined celebrities Jonathan Ross and Davina McCall to see how Comic Relief is helping people in Africa.
Fleet resident Tanya Barrow flew to Ghana to mark the charity’s 25th anniversary and see first-hand the good work achieved with some of the £600m raised over the years.
Mrs Barrow, 43, and fellow bloggers Annie Spratt and Penny Alexander were invited by Comic Relief to spend 48 hours in the west African country.
They visited an outreach project, a vaccine project, a mental health initiative and a Virtuous Women’s Bakery, which employs mothers struggling to financially support their children.
“It all started with a tweet to [charity supporter] Emma Freud last year when I asked her if Comic Relief would be interested in working with bloggers,” said Mrs Barrow.
“Emma invited me along to the Comic Relief offices in London to meet relevant members of their staff to talk about some fundraising ideas I had and how I thought various blogging networks could support this fundraising.
“I took another blogging friend with me, Annie Spratt from Southampton, and we named ourselves Team Honk.
“It was some weeks later when I received the email from Comic Relief asking if the two of us would like to go to Ghana and if we knew a third blogger to join the team.”
Mrs Barrow, who has three children – Caitlin, 18, Jonnie, 17, and Ellie, 14 – with husband Bruce, is passionate about her blog and writes about a wide range of subjects.
She said Team Honk spent time at the bakery project, which featured on the recent BBC Great British Bake Off series.
“This project was set up in Accra seven years ago,” said Mrs Barrow. “Using wood-fired ovens originally, the women not only make the bread but also sell it locally.
“Comic Relief has funded the replacement of the wood-fired ovens and now the bakery uses gas-fired ovens which are not only more efficient but better for the women’s health as they are no longer breathing in smoke.
“The women in the bakery have also set up a nursery, employing a teacher who looks after their children while they work.
“It was wonderful to see women working, earning money to support their families and also knowing their children were safe at the same time.”
TV presenter McCall had also been invited by Comic Relief and spent the day with Team Honk making an exclusive video for the popular website Netmums.
Mrs Barrow added: “We took some bottles of bubbles with us. Children the world over love bubbles and to see the joy on their faces at something so simple is something that will stay with me forever.
"Even Davina was kneeling on the ground blowing bubbles so the children could all join in.”
Mrs Barrow also visited a school on the edge of a slum, which was featured in the One Direction music video that accompanies this year’s Comic Relief single.
“It was like being in One Direction, to be honest. As soon as the children saw our cameras they couldn’t wait to see their own pictures and were clambering to get in the shots. It was fantastic," she said.
The school started out in a wooden shack 10 years ago, educating just a dozen children. It now caters for 250 in a purpose-built, brick building.
“While it had no electricity or running water, it had a structure and teachers keen to educate,” said Mrs Barrow.
The second day of the trip started with a visit to a vaccine clinic.
“Jonathan Ross and Davina were doing live links from the centre to various television shows such as This Morning, BBC Breakfast, Sky News and Alan Titchmarsh, all witnessed by Team Honk,” said Mrs Barrow.
“It was surreal to be sitting in a room chatting to Davina and Jonathan in between takes while also witnessing children being vaccinated, and [it was] a privilege to have seen first-hand the difference donations are making.
“That red nose that somebody bought in Fleet last year could now be being used here in Accra to stop a child dying from diarrhoea.”
Comic Relief takes place on March 15. To take part, visit www.comicrelief.com.