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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

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Boys set their sights on Route 66

A LIFE-changing road trip taking in 2,500 miles and nine American states is being planned by a group of teenagers.

travel plans: Cumbria High Sheriff Iona Frost Pennington and group leader Chris White with (from left) Josh McGrath, Kristie Mason, Patrick Riley, Callum Hilbourne and Luke Garner

They hope to embark on the three-week rite of passage journey along the famous Route 66 in August – following in the footsteps of comedian Billy Connolly and millions of others.

The members of Howgill Boys Group are fundraising for the £16,000 needed for the expedition.

Luke Garner, Aaron Baker, Josh McGrath, Brandon Allan, Patrick Riley, Callum Hilbourn and Kristie Mason will be going together with Chris White, Howgill’s youth work team leader, and youth worker Chris Barry.

Each year the older members of the boys’ group – a personal and social development group for young boys to give them a chance to reach their full potential – plan a summer trip to challenge themselves.

It will be a huge journey for them in many ways, says Chris White. “It’s about building their confidence, self-esteem, aspiration and broadening horizons,” he said.

“An important aspect of the group is to raise the expectations and ambitions of the young men, encouraging them to aim high and to expect to be able to achieve as much as their more affluent peers. Living in rurally isolated areas, many of the lads have never been out of their home town.

“There is a lot of planning going into the trip and fundraising which also helps them academically in school and when they search for jobs,” he added.

All aged 13 to 15, they are members of the older boys’ group which meets at Valley School on Wednesdays. A younger group meets on Tuesdays.

Already £7,500 has been raised and there are many other events coming up, including charity nights, a bag pack, car washing, sponsored bike rides and walks

The group is holding a sponsored abseil on Saturday, April 14, at St Mary’s Church, at Kells. Along with supporters, they will be abseiling 60 feet down the church tower.

The parents also meet regularly to support their children and help with fundraising.

Last week Iona Frost Pennington, High Sheriff of Cumbria, praised the work of the group and presented them with a High Sheriff’s shield and an award of £250 from the High Sheriff’s Crimebeat Fund. Iona has spent her year in office visiting community organisations and projects that are providing positive activities for young people.

The Whitehaven and District Lions group has been helping make contacts in the States to assist with providing accommodation for the group in community halls along the route.

The trip starts in Chicago and will take in the likes of Oklahoma City, St Louis and Amarillo before ending in Los Angeles.

Anyone who can help should contact Howgill on 01956 62681 or Chris on 07827 944747.

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