Christmas gifts from Yarmouth for Grenada islanders

YOUNGSTERS on the Caribbean island of Grenada will be enjoying a flavour of Great Yarmouth Christmas spirit this year, thanks to Julie Charles and Centre 81.

Julie, the centre’s skills and activities manager, married Grenadian Ross Charles a few years ago and since then the couple has regularly holidayed on the island, taking with them a few gifts for families living in comparative poverty there.

When members of Centre 81 heard about the trips, they raised �105 themselves and chipped in with some extra gifts for Julie to take with her last month.

“I ended up with an extra suitcase full of children’s clothes, wind-up radios, solar lights and games, weighing about 26kg,” she said.

“I daren’t look anyone in the eye at the airport check-in but no-one said anything.

“It was a lovely thing for our members to do. These families live in little more than sheds with no electricity and not much running water.

“They wash their clothes from standpoints in the street.

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“Because there is no power and no easy access to batteries they don’t have radios and it is dark in the evenings.

“The wind-up radios and solar lights went down very well.”

Ross and Julie always go to the little village of La Poterie on the opposite side of the island from the capital and tourist centre St George’s.

“It’s a tough life for the families there but they know nothing different and are happy undemanding people. Some of the gifts we took out, the parents put away as Christmas presents for the children,” said Julie.

But they enjoy giving as well, and often the children will shin up a tree to bring Julie and Ross a coconut. or go off to find a mango for them.

Now known in the village as Miss Julie, she was one of the first white faces that some of the children had seen and the smaller ones initially ran their fingers over her skin in curiosity.

“We set out just by taking a few sweets as gifts. Now it’s an overweight suitcase full. Goodness knows what next,” said Julie.

Diana Staines, chief executive of Centre 81, which supports people with physical and other disabilities, said she was delighted at the support members had given Julie.

“I think it is wonderful that here we are as a charity and our members are helping other people with different needs.”

For more information contact Julie Charles at 01493 852573.