Leigh man who fled civil war to help country back on its feet

The Bolton News: Gavin Ayre on a recent trip to West Africa Gavin Ayre on a recent trip to West Africa

EPIC journeys across continents to formerly war-torn countries are usually the plot of cinema blockbusters.

But Gavin Ayre is about to embark on such a conquest to Sierra Leone, a country he has not visited since his family fled the civil war there 20 years ago.

The 26-year-old will travel 4,000 miles by motorbike to set up “an Eco Voluntourism Community'’ called Tribuo, visiting other centres on his way.

The centre will house foreign volunteers who will work to help communities overcome nearly two decades of civil war, become self sufficient and prove to the world that it is no longer a dangerous place.

“Going back is something I have always wanted to do,” he said.

“Even though the circumstances that we left in were of the worst nature, it doesn't affect the love, warmth and affection I have for the people of Sierra Leone.”

Gavin’s father worked in a mine in the African country and he was brought up there.

In 1991, civil war broke out on the other side of the country and in 1994 it came to the mine where Gavin and his family lived.

The Business English teacher said: “Supposedly, when seeing the 500 strong rebel force approaching many young army personnel fled into the bush.

“We had to take refuge in a small bedroom, with mattresses up against the doors and windows.”

The family were able to escape, fleeing to Leigh with just one suitcase between them.

“Whenever I say I am going to Sierra Leone or I lived there., people remark ‘wow, that's a dangerous country’ but this is certainly not the case anymore,” he said.

Gavin, of Broadwell Drive, Pennington, will set off in September and needs to raise £4,000 to build the volunteer centre.

To donate, visit tribuo.com.

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