Rugby stars and lecturers paddle west for Project Zulu

Issue date: 21 May 2015

Ben Knight, Project Zulu coordinator and Senior Education Lecturer at UWE Bristol, is to paddle a 'Stand Up' paddleboard 89 miles along the Kennet and Avon Canal in aid of the charity Project Zulu, who provide educational resources and opportunities for South African township primary schools. The journey will take approximately four days, and will see Ben travel from Reading to Bristol, with all the money raised going towards hiring a coach to transport the Project Zulu Choir around the UK during their three-week tour in September 2015.

The coach will cost approximately £6,000 to hire and Ben is hoping to raise £2,000 or more from his sponsored paddle.

Ben will be joined on the paddle by Matt Edwards, Sports Development Manager at Bristol University, as well as two of Project Zulu's ambassadors, ex Springbok rugby player Thinus Delport and current Bath Rugby and Springbok player Francois Luow, along with a team of three other paddlers including UWE education graduate John Henry Whapham.

Thinus will be joining in the paddle for a stretch through Bath and Francois will be meeting the team canal side to give his support as they paddle through Bath on Saturday 30 May.

Thinus says, “Project Zulu is a fantastic charity and I'm proud to support it. I've heard of some pretty crazy things before but paddling nearly 90 miles has got to be one of the most extreme, but, if it benefits those young kids from a deprived area of South Africa I'm all for it!”

The Project Zulu children's choir, which is compromised of students from Sithobelumtho Primary School in Madadeni SA, will perform their traditional Zulu songs and dances at a variety of venues across the UK to raise funds for the building of new classrooms at their currently very overcrowded school. After the success of their 2013 tour which saw them perform to a packed Colston Hall and raise enough money to install 53 solar panels on their school roof, they are back to earn money to build new classrooms.

Like many schools within the townships of South Africa, Sithobelumthetho has very basic buildings and facilities and learning space is extremely limited. Schools in Madadeni have on average 50-60 children per class. These numbers are far from ideal and make teaching and learning a real challenge. Project Zulu want to put an end to these overcrowded classrooms and enable the dedicated teachers at Sithobelumthetho Primary to deliver their lessons to more manageable class sizes. This in turn will have a hugely positive impact on the children's learning and future prospects.

Ben says, “The spirit of Project Zulu is to enable the township school children to help themselves, we raise the money to bring them to the UK and arrange the concert tour, they turn up and do the rest, earning money to develop their school. Honestly, I'm not 100% sure that 89 miles is possible in four days, but if you're going to ask people for money, you should be pushing the boundaries. This money will help us pay for the coach to take the children around the country to delight audiences with their wonderful talent and raise money for their school. We would like to thank Red Paddle who are lending all boards and equipment for this challenge and Bailey's of Bristolwho are providing us with a support vehicle.”

For more information about the tour please visit

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