Thank you – a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me on the trip to Madagascar a few years back … I sit here now the mother of my own little person (Hope now 13 months old) and it makes me realise how important these donations were and how very much we take for granted here in the UK… Hope will go to a primary school and will have books and shoes unlike so many of the children in Madagascar. I’d also like to thank St George’s Church in Chesterton for their support with fund raising and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band member, Jake Clemons, for his love and his wonderful acoustic concert in Cambridge in aid of our fundraising effort.

I received the following email from Brian Donaldson the head of the Madagascar Development Fund (who were supported by Kitchen Table Charities Trust)

“Dear Ellie
After you and Roy visited Madagascar in 2010 you very kindly raised £2,000 towards the cost of one of the Madagascar Development Fund’s primary school projects… the donations made by you, St George’s Church and Mr and Mrs Thorpe (also made after visiting Madagascar) were used – on a project to build new classrooms at Tsaratanana Primary School in central Madagascar which was damaged by a cyclone.

I am pleased to tell you that thanks to your support the work has now been completed, and the new school building is in full use after its inauguration in January. I attach to my next e-mails photographs taken at the inauguration – which I hope will be of interest to you.

On behalf of the children of Tsaratanana… and my colleagues here at the Madagascar Development Fund I send you our sincere and heartfelt thanks for the significant contribution your donation has made both to increasing the school’s capacity – by creating additional places for children unable to receive an education, and greatly improving conditions at the school.”

Brian attached the following pictures to his email from the inauguration in December … they made me cry, not with pride but with humility … it really doesn’t take alot to change lives and so much that we take totally and utterly for granted or that we waste on absolute rubbish could do a great deal to transform other communities.

You can donate direct to MDF

or to the Kitchen Table Charities Trust who support projects like this throughout Africa and South America

Tsaratanana Primary School in Madagascar

Tsaratanana Primary School in Madagascar

Inside the classroom at the inauguration of Tsaratanana Primary School.

Inside the classroom during the inauguration of Tsaratanana Primary School.












If you are interested in following what else I’ve been up to since the trip to Madagascar you can visit my site Mush Brained Ramblings.

Thank you again to those that sponsored me and gave me the courage to go on the adventure that has ultimately changed not just my life but hundreds of lives in Tsratanana.






Very much looking forward to watching Attenborough narrating the wonderful new series of programmes on Madagascar starting on 9th February.

“Madagascar explores the extraordinary wildlife and dramatic landscapes of this bizarre and fascinating island. Using the latest in filming technology, the series tells the story of Madagascar’s diverse and rare wildlife – some filmed for the first time.”

Broadcast Dates
• Episode 1: “Island of Marvels”, 8.00 –9.00pm, BBC Two, Wed 9 Feb
• Episode 2: “Lost Worlds” 8.00 –9.00pm, BBC Two, Wed 16 Feb
• Episode 3: “Land of Heat and Dust” 8.00 –9.00pm, BBC Two, Wed 23 Feb

For more information about the programme have a look here on the Bradt site

and don’t forget that this beautiful island needs support … and I’m still fundraising for Kitchen Table Charities Trust

I was proud to be invited to be interviewed recently by the Get Inspired Project … a wonderful idea; 365 people interviewed over 365 days on inspiration …

this went live online yesterday – interview number 337 … you can listen online or you can read a transcript of the whole interview
here on the Get Inspired Project website

I’ve never done anything like that before … but this seems to be a year of first’s and it ties in with the story behind this blog so seemed appropriate to put a link on this blog.

You will also be amused to know that they generate a graphic for every Interview having listened to and reflected on what was said, the graphic they generated for my interview was this!!!

If what I say in my interview inspires you, then please consider a donation to the wonderful Kitchen Table Charities Trust click here

thank you!

The Ambohitrakely bridge and school inaugurations were such big news locally that they were one of the lead items on both the Malagasy and French language news reports on TVM the day after. This is the clip from the French speaking news broadcast. Thanks to journalists at TVM for sending it through.

I’m sure you’ll recognise some of the cast of characters from my blog about the day Bridging The Gap – Brian Donaldson cuts the ribbon alongside the man from the Ministry in his fabulous suit. The straw hat and wafty dress behind are modelled by yours truly!!

The following clip is our video of the bridge opening … it captures a little more of the local band’s music and the windy, red dusty day.

Madagascar needs another 3000 primary schools in order to offer a start in life to every child. Projects like this only exist with thanks to charities like MDF and the Kitchen Table Charities Trust.

You can donate to KTCT here

3 days this time and I’m on the plane to Antananarivo …

so much to get done in the meantime and not helped by the fact that my irritating auto immune system has caused my knee to swell up again – or was it the dancing in cowboy boots on Saturday night in Brixton, or falling over at Kings Cross running for the train last night. Humph- AND we’ve a new government in the UK to get my head around.

Anyway – looking forward to sitting back on the plane and breathing a big sigh of relief having crammed about a year’s work, a hair cut, packing, physio, knee inspection, lawn mowing, conference attending and so on before Saturday evening … am thinking that my case will have to be squashed shut rather than the neat flat packing we are all encouraged to do by those annoyingly perfect people on the TV.

Have given out millions of my little cards so far leading people to this page – so hello if that’s how you found me here – and don’t forget to click the big donate button on … I’m going to raise awareness of the social issues in Madagascar and the immense poverty and the amazing work that the Kitchen Table Charities Trust have been able to support out there (mainly through the Madagascar Development Fund)

So – you just have to read and click donate and send words of encouragement – I have to get there, deal with it all, blog, tweet, facebook (yes there is a Kitchen Table Charities Trust page on Facebook) and shout all I can about what I find there AND try and deal with the 740 species of spider that will be waiting just behind Brian Donaldson to meet me off the plane on Sunday lunch time.

Interesting findings on Third Sector website on public perception of small v large charities

this reflects the KTCT philosophy of  ‘changing lives by thinking small’

and supports my plea / demand (!!) for donations

so much more accountable – all the money goes to the projects and people it is intended for.

To read more about Madagascar and the difference that small grants can make to both individuals and communities click here to read the Africa Research Institute Report “Think Small: The example of small grants, in Madagascar” by Brian Donaldson

Lovely relaxing evening, happy sunny day, walk along the Cob (in Lyme Regis picking my mother up after her holiday down here), back to her hotel for dinner and I thought, as we ate scrumptious home made chocolate and drank mint tea, that  she would be interested in me reading to her about Madagascar and Antananarivo (the capital – also known as Tana) …

She wanted to know about flora and fauna … we got through flora well and then the first whole chapter of the Brandt guide on fauna was about spiders … instead of closing it quickly and reflecting on the lovely Lemon Posset I had just eaten,  I read it …

oh oh oh oh my word

web throwing spiders, giant golden orb spiders with webs stretching between lamp posts, jumping spiders … basically it says there are spiders pretty much everywhere.

I shall have to go around with my trousers tucked into my socks, my hair up and in a hat incase one gets into my hair, and … eeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkkk

I can’t demonstrate my total wimpish phobia in the face of real issues like poverty, malaria, malnutrition and so on.

Tomorrow I must go to the Lyme book shop and buy a book on conquering your phobias …  I had convinced myself that the spiders would all live on the other side of the island to where I will be but oh no, blooming Hilary Bradt tells me that they are ubiquitous and that ‘spider spotting’ is one of the main reasons to go to Madagascar and they are everywhere and all you need to do to see them is ‘just look up’ and they will be hanging from the lamp-posts and rafters waving their hairy legs and laughing down at the poor petrified passers by …

I am not reading another word about wildlife before I go.

humph (and eeeeeeek)

However – the evening has ended up on a positive note … I just checked my JustGiving page and due to the support of extremely generous friends, colleagues and a total stranger; £475 has already been raised for KTCT.

Fantastic – thank you so much …

and to those of you who haven’t yet please please consider pressing the Donate button – how ever small the donation it will make a huge difference – read what I wrote in the ‘About All This’ section of this blog and you’ll understand more about how a little helps alot… and it makes me feel better about going to the most spideriferous nation in the world!!