Morgan Applegarth prepares to volunteer for Ocean Stars in Sri Lanka

The first is slightly selfish. For years, I've wanted to go travelling; to quit my job, fill a backpack and see the world. But, with my career and other commitments the chance never really surfaced - until now.

OceanStars :: Monday 5th September 2016 :: This Story

 
Picture: /files/latest-news/230/w288/morgan2.jpg
Long story short, I've quit my job, bought a backpack and am now planning to see the world.
 
I've always wanted a purpose to my travels that went beyond sampling the best beach bars in Southeast Asia. I wanted to do some good, give something back and experience day-to-day life of other cultures.
 
The second factor is my first (and, so far, only) visit to Sri Lanka. In December 2015, I toured the country with my sister and brother in law with help from a local guide. One of the many highlights of the trip was spending time with our guide, who shed light on many aspects of Sri Lankan culture. A topic that came up occasionally was the 2004 tsunami and how areas we were visiting were still coming to terms with that fateful event.
 
Hearing tales from a proud Sri Lankan about the devastation caused and driving through towns that were shadows of their former selves really humanised the scenes that I'd seen on TV. The more we talked about the tsunami's impact and the longer I spent in the country, the stronger my feelings toward the event grew. The stories and scenes were sad and I didn't like hearing or seeing them about a country I was quickly growing to love.
 
In planning my travels, I decided Sri Lanka would be my first destination. I spoke with a friend who's not only well travelled in the country but involved with OST. Knowing my motives for travelling she suggested I read up on, and got in touch with, OST.
 
I took her suggestions and learned about OST; what its done and continues to do. Not only was I impressed, but drawing on how I felt during my December trip I wanted to get involved. OST seemed like the perfect opportunity to give back to communities of a wonderful country, once so wrongly hurt.
 
I'm really looking forward to visiting OST projects in Batticaloa and am sure this is the start of a long relationship between myself and the charity.

Getting Active on fun day in aid of Ocean charity

Money to 'make a real difference' to children in Sri Lanka

OceanStars :: Thursday 11th August 2016 :: This Story

Children have been treated to a day of fun in aid of a local charity.

Picture: /files/latest-news/228/w288/sandras-fun-day.jpg

Everyone Active's Hart Leisure Centre, in Fleet, hosted a family fun day in aid of  Ocean Stars Trust.

Sandra Stokes organised the day and said "Having spent more than 30 years working with children under the age of five, I wanted to help young people in other countries benefit from better opportunities"

See the full report from Fleet News Wed 20th July

Howard Robson's Cycle Ride

Howard Robson cycles for Ocean Stars Trust and raises £800. Well done Howard!

OceanStars :: Wednesday 3rd August 2016 :: This Story

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100

Picture: /files/latest-news/227/w288/howard-bike-ride.jpg

 

Dear all, I just thought as a matter of courtesy I would let all you kind people know how I got on last Sunday, seeing as you have all been so kind and generous in offering help, advice, sponsorship and donations.

I duly arrived at the appointed hour and was in my slot 'E' at the Black start by 7.30 am. This was the easy bit, having been made easier than before by the offer of accommodation the previous night at Tim Allen's flat only a few miles from the Olympic Park. Thanks Tim!  The weather was good, and I didn't need my throwaway sweatshirt that I had packed as a contingency - the only concern was that the day might be too warm! The next hour passed quickly chatting to fellow cyclists around me, and our 'wave' set off at the scheduled time of 8.31 am. Each wave could choose music to set off by, and we left to the strains of 'it can only get better', which was better than last year when we had The Laughing Policeman!

In the commonly used expression by the younger generation, it was truly 'awesome' cycling through the traffic-free streets of London seeing all the famous landmarks, and not having to worry about traffic lights, cars and pedestrians! I quickly arrived in East Sheen, where I met up with my brother Mike and his wife Catherine who gave me moral support before the climb up Sheen Lane into Richmond Park. A slow down in the Park due to a couple of minor pile ups (seems to happen there every year), and then it was a pull into the first 'Hub' near Hampton Court for a quick grab of water and loo-stop.

I was very pleased with my progress, and my average speed was about 16 mph for the first two hours, meaning that I should be on target for a finishing time of about 7 hours, bearing in mind I still had the Surrey hills to do. Unfortunately that all unravelled at about mile 38/39 when we were all held up for about an hour and a half due to a 'serious incident'. Being in a sea of stationary cyclists which stretched as far as the eye could see it was difficult to know what was happening, and rumours abounded. We knew it must be something serious as helicopters were buzzing overhead. I now know that a total of 33 cyclists were taken to hospital, with 7 remaining in hospital, 3 seriously injured, following a nasty accident at Pyrford. Also sadly one person died from cardiac arrest.

After that, all thought of getting a 'time' went out of the window, and it was just a case of getting on with it, and wondering how we would get back to London and what contingency plans and diversions would be put into place. A quick stop at the second hub at the top of Newlands Corner and then it was full speed ahead, but not for long because by now most of the 26,000 cyclists had bunched up so badly that we came to a grinding halt at every pinch point. Because of the delays the organisers decided to cut out Leith Hill for most of the riders, myself included. So I got to the finish in The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace at 5.15 pm having ridden 93 miles. A total time of 8 hours 45 mins, which means I did it in about 7 hrs 15 mins by the time you take off the delay. In fact probably much quicker if you take into account all the other delays and pit stops. Also I had covered over 100 miles taking into account the ride to the start and back to Waterloo station at the end. And no punctures!

I was naturally disappointed with my time, but our thoughts and sympathy must go out the friends and families of those who were not so lucky.

On the positive side I have raised over £800 for Ocean Stars, and am looking forward to going out to Sri Lanka in October to see this money being put to good use. I have been told by Just giving that I was in the top 5% of fundraisers in July!

Once again a huge thank you to all of you.

Howard.

Charity Cycle

Jo Barton, an Ocean Stars Trustee & Janine Dunbar, an Ocean Stars supporter will be travelling to Northumberland on July 26th to cycle 100 miles along the Hadrian's Wall Cycleway on July 27th & 28th.

OceanStars :: Monday 18th July 2016 :: This Story

They are hoping the weather will be kind to them! If you would like to support them in any way, here is the Just Giving Link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Janine-Dunbar2?utm_id=13

Quiz Night

For Ocean Stars

OceanStars :: Sunday 10th July 2016 :: This Story

91 people gathered at Fleet Town Football Club for an Ocean Stars Quiz night.

Ocean Star Charity Quiz nightPicture: /files/latest-news/225/w288/img-1632.jpg

Our quiz Master was the now famous, dynamic and humorous, quiz guru of Fleet Mr Mike Gardner. A very enjoyable evening was had by all. Dominos pizzas fed the brains during the break and there was a raffle with 11 amazing hampers to be won.

The evening raised £1200 for the work of Ocean Stars Trust. Thank you to everyone who attended our Quiz pm.

Fun Day

Ocean Stars Charity Fun Day at Hart Leisure Centre Fleet

OceanStars :: Thursday 7th July 2016 :: This Story

Picture: /files/events/224/w288/fun-day-poster.jpg

HART LEISURE CENTRE

Hitches La, Fleet GU51 5HS

SUNDAY 10TH JULY, TIME 10.30AM TO 3.30PM

£3 per child

BOUNCY CASTLE

CLIMBING EQUIPMENT

PLEASE COME ALONG AND SUPPORT THIS LOCAL CHARITY HELPING CHILDREN IN SRI LANKA

 

Lunchtime Cake Sale

18 students from Calthorpe Park School, Fleet who are going to visit Ocean Stars projects in Sri Lanka in October 2016 organised a cake sale in the school court yard on Monday 28th June.

OceanStars :: Thursday 30th June 2016 :: This Story

There were lots of yummy treats on offer! Ice cream, sweets, chocolate brownies, a variety of doughnuts, drinks, biscuits, pot noodles and drinks! The students are busy trying to reach their target of raising £8000 for the work of Ocean Stars. They have raised £5672.00 so far!

The cake sale raised another £302.00 towards this target.

Well done OST CPS team 2016!

Picture: /files/latest-news/223/w288/img-1624.jpgPicture: /files/latest-news/223/w288/img-1625.jpgPicture: /files/latest-news/223/w288/img-1626.jpgPicture: /files/latest-news/223/w288/img-1628.jpgPicture: /files/latest-news/223/w288/img-1629.jpgPicture: /files/latest-news/223/w288/img-1630.jpg

June 2016 Newsletter

What has happened, and what we are doing now...

OceanStars :: Wednesday 29th June 2016 :: This Story

Download our June Newsletter

Maureen Johnston Ocean Stars Chairperson reflects on our work so far in 2016

As ever it has been a busy and at times challenging beginning to 2016 for all the OST trustees. We continue to work towards our goal of providing equal opportunities for all children in Sri Lanka and con-sequently much of our focus remains on the development and provi-sion of pre school education in remote parts of north and east Sri Lanka. Thanks to our supporters, the hard work of our OSL team and the teachers themselves we now run 15 schools and provide educa-tion for over 500 children. As trustees we are working hard to ensure that our class-rooms are in as good a state of repair as possible and that the educational provision for the children continues to develop.
Our child sponsorship programme is ongoing and the children are visited regularly to check on their progress and to ensure that the sponsorship money is used correctly. Likewise we are monitoring the progress of our sewing and other livelihood projects, as we try to support families in building a better future for themselves.
We are constantly encouraged and delighted at the progress and development of OST's work but are very aware that none of it would be possible without your support. So a huge thank you from myself and the trustees for all your contributions. There is lots more to do as we try to bring hope to these remote, poor communities and we look forward to continuing to work with you.

Maureen

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Mrs Nadarajah who founded and ran Grace Children's Home In Vavuniya . She devoted the last 15 years of her life to the service of others and was an inspiration to all who met her. She was full of love and compassion and Grace was always a warm and welcoming home. She was "amma" (mother) to all the orphaned and dis-placed boys who entered her care. The children were able to leave their traumas by the front gate and enter a space where love and faith overcame all adversity. We will miss her. May she rest in peace.

 

 

Ocean Stars Newsletter - June 2016

Maureen Johnston Ocean Stars Chairperson reflects on our work so far in 2016

OceanStars :: Tuesday 28th June 2016 :: This Story

The Ocean Stars newsletter for June 2013 is now available!

Read the Ocean Stars Newsletter June 2016

Triathlon for Ocean Stars

D DAY: Friday 10th June

OceanStars :: Sunday 26th June 2016 :: This Story

 Picture: /files/latest-news/218/w288/triathlon-bikes.jpg

7am up lots of butterflies in my tummy, down stairs for porridge BIG bowl, check bag with change of  clothes and swimming gear, Ali is going to look after that till I get there for swim, then off at 8am to drop bag off at leisure centre.

Bike checked packed with water, snack bars and sweets.

Graham has to go and pick up Martin from Station, so on my own, now I really want to get going but have half hours to wait as I can't swim till 11.45 as swimming lessons in pool till then.

9.10am I'm ready, loo again, Graham home, check list again! Phone, metre to tell me distance, last text to friends to say I am on my way. Ocean Stars here we go!

We are off and I am feeling really good, I'm flying, nice and quiet on the roads, feeling very upbeat,( which was very different from when I did my canal walk in 2014, the first hour my head was full of though, thinking about people, that were no longer alive even a bit tearful), but this time I am buzzing, cruising along and enjoying it, chatting to myself (a bit worrying)  I see people thinking "you just think I'm a middle aged women out for a little bit of exercise" little did they know this was a woman on a mission.  I arrive at a sort of half way point and look at watch 9.30 wow I'm speeding along,  so in my head I am thinking if  I get there earlier could I do a bit more, brave words thinks she.

On I go then we get to cricket hill and I find myself going DOWN FAST, no cars. "Go for it Sandra", middle of the road, feet of the peddles and I am singing out loud "Rains Drop are falling on my head" and grinning from ear to ear!!  Wow watch out missy remember the next bit it goes up up up, get those peddles going and I zooming along. Then that long long drag starts, get into that low gear, try not to run out of gears too soon,(only 5 working) bums off the saddle and legs feeling strong, then here it is the road from hell and the hill that just keeps going up and up the road to Alton. Lots of lorries and cars and I keep going and going, in gear 3 for about 2 minutes and then I find myself on my lowest gear , no more gears too help m! The lorries come snugly close to me but love it or not they have to crawl behind me ,the old bum is off the saddle and the pressure is on I am determined to show them I can get up this hill without getting off and I am a women possessed . I hope they can't hear me as I am really shouting at myself to get up this hill, "come on you can do it, get those legs going come on nearly there" I can see the brow of the hill I can feel it getting easier YES YES, what a relief, ok now get some speed up for the next bit, and I am there zooming down to off up the high street, along over the canal, now that brings back memories. I was wet, soaked but I did complete 38 miles in 11 hrs in the rain so if I can do that, this is a breeze. Today it is cool and the sun is just breaking through. Still doing good time almost at leisure centre, 1hr 15, yes, check in with Ali, then off I go for the Run. Music in my ear, its day dream time, and as I walk I eat my banana and snack bar, then I am ready to run, legs a bit heavy but ok better than I thought, then ooops I need the loo and not a wee, so can't run but luckily I have made good time, so call in at the leisure centre (break loo seat tee hee) then off I go again to finish in 55mins. I am now early. I  got 25mins before I can swim, Ali checks the distant gizmo and  says "you have only done 19miles",my heart sinks" I told everyone it was a 22mile ride each time", my face drops, Ali say it's ok it doesn't matter. She tries to convince me that people won't ask and if they do they won't mind, "NO NO I made a promise so I have to do it",  Ali I looks at me and says, "I  hear you, so what can we do", so I know I can do 90 lengths  in and an hour so that means I can make a mile up, and I did a  4mile run so two of them that's  another mile so I have to make up 2 miles, so I decide to add a section onto the end of bike ride. I feel happier now.

Picture: /files/latest-news/218/w288/triathlon-swim.jpgOk off for swim, Ali is swimming as well so that's really nice that makes me happy, 1hr later and 90 lengths, I am feeling good legs  ok and arms not too tired. I change, cover myself in talc and the clothes go on easier, then like a bullet from the sky:  where's my key to the padlock on my bike, panic, bag emptied on floor, drop the metre on floor that shows distance,  and yes it breaks open, fingers and thumbs, panic, start looking, see if  it's  outside on the bike  "Ali I really need you" back to Crèche not in there I am going crackers, right  phone Graham tell him to come and cut the lock off, Ali outside checking if someone can cut it in the centre.  I look at her she looks at me then she says to me "ok Sandra as there are no kids in the room go on you are allowed to say what you want!" (I rarely swear) so I look at her and out it comes "F######k" she looks at me" feel better?" "Yes" then we look up and there hanging up on my helmet is the key, we laugh, so wasted 20mins, time to go.

Run, here we go I am pumped and I run like the wind, only walk 3 times for the count of 100, then 50 minutes later and I am coming across the car park and there are 2 angels  coming out of the centre they see me and my heart sings. Big hugs photos chat then off for my swim its now 3.05. Dilanee and Maureen are on pool side big smiles and off I go, now did the 90 lengths feeling tired and still positive, Grahams was waiting for me stuffed food in mouth feeling a wobbly so sit for a couple minutes then off we go 4.25pm, and the legs really don't belong to me, so this is now about endurance. Steady steady but the road is busy,  mind is thinking negative thoughts , tick myself off keep going Sandra,  however I did sing down cricket hill, and I didn't get of that bike and walk up the long  long hill from hell to Alton, slow but steady, bit of shouting at myself to get up this hill, then this car came so close serious wobble ,then how the black thoughts creep in, News Flash women knocked of bike while doing a charity triathlon! Then the positive thoughts flow in, now in day dreaming mode, reflecting on the fact that as I am doing this people are sending money to Ocean Stars  Trust "to raise funds for  new dormitory for a small orphanage . All worthwhile, I think to myself.  Off we go did ok now and then I hit the wall mentally and physically and knees are really hurting and head ache and so so so saddle sore (on fire is a better word) tee hee.

So the extra two miles are coming up and I so want to just go home, "no one will know" but I will, so get going Stokes, and I did, pulled in the drive at 5.15 8hrs 15 mins, the garage door open and Graham the knight in shining armour waiting......I think he could see the pain on my face and tiredness, well done, go sit down go sit down and have a drink

<I DID IT>