Head set for African mission

Heanor Howitt: Head Teacher Mandy Marriott is off to Africa.

Heanor Howitt: Head Teacher Mandy Marriott is off to Africa.

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A head teacher is bowing out of her time at Heanor’s Howitt Primary School to promote AIDS awareness in a remote African village.

Mandy Marriott finished her final term at the Holmes Street School last week after six years as head.

And on her 50th birthday in September she is set to fly out to Tanzania to teach Masai children at an orphanage in the village of Loliando.

Mum-of-two Mandy, of Spondon said: “I think it’s just something totally different for me to recharge and re-energise before I come back.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Africa to work in an orphanage. Aids and HIV are so rife in Africa and there’s a lack of knowledge on how they are spread.”

The former head leaves The Holmes Street school with some sadness having joined there nine years ago and taking over as head when Mary and William Howitt Schools merged in 2007.

All 440 pupils and staff joined her for a farewell picnic last week in the school fields and the staff there have bought her a video camera to document her adventure .

On leaving the team there she said: “I have really enjoyed my job, I have loved being head teacher - I just think Howitt is such a unique place to be.

“It’s made special by the staff, the children and the parents.”

Mandy is due to stay in Loliando for three months as part of a Christians Abroad scheme.

Through the charity she has so far managed to raise £1,300 to place a new water pump in the village .

Currently its inhabitants have to travel two miles on foot to the nearest reservoir.

Mandy, who has two sons, George, 21, and Jonathan, 24, says she does have some nerves.

“I’ve done a lot of preparation through the charity,” she said. “The simplicity of lifestyle will be very different- there’s no internet, no phone connection.

“My sons have been very supportive,” she added. I don’t think they quite believed I would actually do it, but it seems so close now!”