Inspirational Carol recognised for work with Kenyan children

Carol Groves with the Kenyan children at Unity School in Mombasa
Carol Groves with the Kenyan children at Unity School in Mombasa

A Rustington woman has been recognised for her charity work helping children in Mombasa.

Carol Groves, 64, is a regional finalist in McCarthy and Stone’s national Inspirational Generation competition, rewarding people aged over 60 who have done amazing work in the community.

She co-founded Friends of Mombasa Children in 2003 and has been shortlisted along with two others from the south east.

Carol retired as chief executive of Arun and Chichester Citizen’s Advice Bureau in January but remains chairman of Friends of Mombasa Children.

The charity has held a variety of fundraising events over the last 15 years to help children in Kenya escape the poverty trap through education.

It bought land in Mombasa in 2006 and built its first school there by the end of the following year. The site, named Unity School, now caters for the education of 400 pupils and is recognised as one of the top schools in the area.

Plans are underway for a purpose-built school to help educate even more children in the under-privileged area.

Carol said: “It’s a complete surprise to reach the finals of the competition. I knew that my mum had nominated me for it but I really didn’t think I would get through all the entries, especially when you consider all the fantastic causes people in our area are actively supporting.”

The competition was launched to celebrate the many ways older people inspire the younger generation.

In June, one national winner will be selected by a panel of judges, including TV and radio personality Gloria Hunniford, and awarded a cash prize of £2,000. Nine regional winners will each receive £200 to be donated to their charity of choice and a £50 hamper.

Carol said: “I’m really flattered to get this far. The best outcome from this is that the charity gets even more recognition and we can continue to give children in Kenya the education they deserve and help them in the long-term, not just giving them a short term fix.

“When I visited the country on a family holiday before the charity was formed, my family and I found ourselves lost and in a poverty stricken area.

“We were welcomed by the happy children and wanted to give something back. So, we set up a charity to give children in Kenya the education that our children are so fortunate to have in the UK.

“The charity has grown rapidly since then and we now have six trustees, including myself. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a career as CEO of Citizen’s Advice that helps people every day but the charity is something that I feel will make a real, lasting difference.”

Carol said she would love to visit the children at Unity School again and if she was lucky enough to win, she would use the money to fund the trip.

Georgina Akers, regional sales and marketing director for McCarthy and Stone south east, said: “Our search for the Inspirational Generation not only resulted in a high level of entries but the standard was truly remarkable.

“Many people in the south east came forward with tales of triumphs over adversity, the most wonderfully colourful life stories, and chronicles of achievements and experiences – and each and every individual entry demonstrated just how inspiring today’s older people are.

“Shortlisting was an incredibly difficult task. Our congratulations go to all our finalists for getting the recognition they deserve and we wish them all the best of luck in the next stage of the competition.”