A SOMERCOTES woman who was inspired to sponsor an African orphan after watching his father on television is appealing for help to raise funds.
Caroline Grant founded The Friends of Darlington to help the son of the late Dalu Mncube, who starred in the Lion Man TV series and was killed in 2009 when he was mauled by a tiger in New Zealand.
Son Darlington, six, whose mother is also dead, is being cared for by his grandmother Lucy, in Hwange, Zimbabwe, along with seven other orphaned children.
Caroline, 36, said: “Our aim is to collect gift donations and financial donations to help Darlington’s family. We can never replace this young man’s parents but we can help put a smile on his and his family’s faces.
“We can also assist with school fees, medicines and anything else to make the family’s life easier.”
Caroline first became aware of Dalu when he appeared in the Lion Man television series, which followed the conservation work of Craig Busch, at the Zion Wildlife Gardens, in New Zealand.
When he was killed in May 2009 – three months after he saved a fellow keeper from the same rare white tiger – Caroline began researching Dalu’s family on the internet.
She founded the group, which now has more than 50 members from across the UK, and in December, 2010, sent a shipment of boxes, which included a bike for Darlington. The expense of postage and courier costs have made the group decide to pass on a cash donation next time.
Caroline, who lives in Somercotes with daughters Laura, 19, and Deanna, 13, and partner Dean, said: “When I first set this up I just did it for Darlington – and then I realised about the other seven children. The family are very private and proud but they’re really touched that we’re helping.
“His grandmother Lucy saved up to call us and say thankyou in person. She was so touched that strangers from the other side of the world would care. I was in tears. It would be wonderful to go over one day but while we can’t, we want to send gifts.
“I’ve always wanted to help a child in Africa and this is like sponsoring a child without the middle man. It’s going straight to the family and they are a wonderful family who have been through a terrible time.”
Caroline has organised a charity fundraiser at the Horse and Jockey pub in Selston, on June 11, which will feature a barbeque, entertainment and a raffle. A host of prizes, donated by local companies, is up for grabs.