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Date added: 02 February 2006

Special Delivery For Bulgarian Orphans 

Chepelare champions:
(l to r) Honda workers Gerry Dickson,
Allan Heads, Kim Little
and Andy Dickson
Let's face it, we all pack too many clothes for holiday, especially when we're jetting off to subzero temperatures.
 
But few have to send clothes in a separate lorry load, however cold it is in Bulgaria!
 
Charitable Swindonian Andy Dickson will need to do just that when he ships 80,000 worth of clothing to the Bulgarian village of Pamporovo to help the unfortunate and frankly freezing orphans.
 
But Andy still needs a means of getting it there, and is pretty sure it won't meet his hand luggage allowance!
 
"At the moment it's all at the Honda storage facility in Stratton and we've got until the end of the month to ship it out," says Andy.
 
"On the current Euro exchange rate it will cost around 1,450 to get it out there but we're really hoping to raise that money or for anyone to come forward who has a means of shipping it for us."
 
Andy's altruistic adventure started in 2004 when he and his Bulgarian wife Gerry were so choked up by the plight of the local orphanages in skiing village Chepelare that they decided to do something to help.
 
Gerry Dickson loads a box full of clothes and toys
Packing up: Gerry Dickson loads
a box full of clothes and toys
 
With the help of a group of friends they managed to secure 1,400 worth of donations from local companies and individuals. And when they arrived in the village with the goods they given quite a welcome.
 
"It wasn't really what we wanted, but word got around in the village and they sent TV crews, radio and even the Mayor came to thank us," says Andy.

"But it really touched our hearts to see that our donations were to make such a difference."
 
As well as clothing, the group took a lot of second hand toys for the orphans.

"People had been worried that the toys they were giving us were slightly damaged or the sound didn't work. But these kids had never possessed anything like this before and their faces were an absolute picture."

But Andy, Gerry and their close friends Alan Hedge and Kim Little were determined that this wouldn't be a one-off and once back in Swindon continued to appeal to local companies.
 
And when clothing company Matalan stepped forward and offered 80,000 worth of clearance stock, they weren't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
 
"We're incredibly grateful to Matalan," says Andy. "These clothes will make a real difference. We'd like them to go to six or seven orphanages in the village of Pamporovo.
 
"These include special needs orphanages, where many of the children are autistic. Some of these kids have absolutely nothing and there's a basic lack of heating so the warm clothes will help no end.
 
Allan Heads loads up a box
Shipping out:
Allan Heads loads a
box bound for Bulgaria
"The ages of the orphans range from newborn to sixteen so we have clothing all the way up to adult sizes.
 
We've also got a fair amount of furniture to take. It's all been sorted into containers and documented and is currently stored in ten wooden pallets, each 9ft high. Now it's just a case of getting it there."
 
Andy says once the goods have made been shipped out, he will fly over to make sure it has been offloaded and distributed to the right places.
 
And who's to bet against even more of a hero's welcome this time round!
 
If you're inspired by Andy's story and would like to pledge a donation towards the shipping costs or are even able to provide transport for the goods, please don't hesitate to contact Andy on 07756916724.
 
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