Brave Harrogate woman's crocodile-infested African trip

Most people would find the prospect of paddling down the crocodile-infested waters of the wild and beautiful lower Zambezi a little frightening but the Harrogate organiser of a forthcoming charity expedition is confident it will all go well.

Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 4:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 4:57 pm
Organiser of the daring canoe trip, Jane Keogh, on a previous volunteeering mission to Zambia.

Jane Keogh, owner of a personal development and training company in Harrogate, said: "I've read the stories in the national press about crocodile attacks in that area of Zambia but it tends to happen to people in inflatables. I wouldn't go on the river in one of them."In July, Jane will lead a small team of ten people from the business world on a self-funded canoe trip down this famous African river to support orphaned and disadvantaged children in the remote rural Chiawa region.The expedition will also serve to highlight the work of Conservation Lower Zambezi to protect endangered wildlife, especially elephants.For four days and nights there will be no mobile phone reception as they paddle down stream and camp by the river.

But there will certainly be plenty of animals.Jane said: "We will be camping every night on small islands and sand banks."There will be hundreds of hippos around and we will probably see elephants crossing and snakes."There's also the chance of lions and hyenas and crocodiles but the noise of our camp fire will probably put them off."Any trip amongst wildlife always has an element of danger but the key thing is to respect the animals' territory."

Joning Jane on the journey of a lifetime by fibre glass canoe will be several other hardy volunteers from the Harrogate business world.Among them are Alison Brooks, whose husband's business Moda Living at West Park is supporting the charity expedition, Jessica Kelly from Hendersons Insurance Broking Group at Cardale Park, Paul Woods from Imagine Financial Planning at Windsor House in Harrogate and Louisa Millington who is business development manager for Craven and Co in Knaresborough.

Endangered - An elephant in Zambia. (Picture by Jane Keogh)

The inspiration for the expedition, whose aim is to raise a total of £13,500 to sponsor children in rural Zambia to go to secondary school, came from Jane's earlier experiences in Zambia.Jane said: "I went to the Lower Zambezi a few years ago to volunteer for Conservation Lower Zambezi which is a non-profit organisation committed to the protection of wildlife and to the sustainable use of natural resources in the area."To work and live in a remote and wild part of the world, amongst the wildlife is a humbling and grounding experience. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life."We need to educate people about sustainable living. Can you imagine a world without elephants?"

Before setting off down river, the team will visit local schools in Zambia to present computers and PE equipment at Gota Gota school and another school in the local village of Mugulameno.Like Jane, herself, all members of the expedition are paying for the trip, including the flights, our of their own pockets.

The team's charity fundraising will be bolstered by an event at Hotel du Vin in Harrogate shortly.The lunch on Sunday, June 10 will feature a raffle hosted by DJ Trev with prizes donated by Harrogate's business community, including a private VIP box for a top event at Leeds Arena.General donations can be made to the Virgin MoneyGiving page which has been set up for the trip.