Barns Green pupil treks across Africa for BBC documentary

Muntham House School pupil Leo Turnbull travelled to Africa for BBC documentary. Photo by Derek martin
Muntham House School pupil Leo Turnbull travelled to Africa for BBC documentary. Photo by Derek martin

A Muntham House School pupil has returned from being guided through the Tanzanian savannah by Maasai tribesmen as part of a BBC show.

Leo Turnbull, aged 14, a Year 10 pupil who lives in South Wimbledon but boards in Barns Green from Monday to Friday, was selected as one of ten pupils to travel on a nine-day trek totalling 80 miles in 40-degree temperatures visiting several villages and a safari park.

The BBC were filming The Hottest Classroom on Earth, one of a series of shows that see youngsters put in extreme climates, and Leo said he learned a lot about both himself and the deprivation in the country.

“They are all really poor, but always smiling and really happy to see us all the time, you felt bad,” he explained.

“A lot of the kids we met walk to school 15km there and 15 back, just so they can get a good job and give all their money to their family.”

They played football against a team of villagers with one pair of shoes between them, got close to a lion licking the wheels of a truck from their convoy, and were taught how to throw the Maasai’s spears, although Leo admits he did not say much on camera.

All of the pupils taking part were from the Engage in their Future network, a national charity supporting the education of students whose life circumstances have left them with some social, emotional or behavioural difficulties, and had been picked after a demanding selection weekend in the Brecon Beacons.

No stranger to the African continent, Leo has already visited before as Muntham House have partnerships with two schools in Uganda and Kenya,and he said the previous trip had helped him prepare mentally for this.

He added: “Most of them didn’t speak much English, but were really welcoming. Everyone seemed a little confused, as I don’t think some of the kids had seen white people before.”

The documentary is due to be broadcast in the autumn.