Rotarian gives up beloved bath to volunteer at Indonesian hospital

JPCT 05-09-12 S12360889X  Billingshurst Rotarian working at children's hospital in Sumatra  -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 05-09-12 S12360889X Billingshurst Rotarian working at children's hospital in Sumatra -photo by Steve Cobb

A Billingshurst Rotarian and charity fanatic will soon be travelling to Indonesia on her own to volunteer at a hospital in Sumatra.

Sandy Duck, 66, of Berrall Way, Billingshurst, will embark on the 15 hour flight on September 26 to work with charity ‘Children of Sumatra’ which helps children, and some adults, suffering from cleft lip and palate.

The charity - which is supported by Billingshurst Rotary - sends out two teams of Dutch doctors each year to Sumatra on a voluntary basis to perform cleft lip and palete operations and Sandy will be joining them for two weeks, assisting with domestic duties and the aftercare for children.

She said: “When I was applying to do the work someone asked me if I was OK with blood and vomit and things of that sort and I told them I have had two children, three grand children, and dogs, so basically, yes.”

After having little prior travelling experience Sandy is looking forward to a totally new experience.

“Holidays have never been high on my agenda, apart from taking the kids away so the biggest challenge for me will be getting on to the right aeroplane!

“It’s a bit scary travelling on my own but for me it will make the world of good because I am that person who always has to have a bath and wash my hair every morning and I’m not going to be able to do that so it’ll be good for my confidence.”

This trip is likely to be a cultural shock as Sandy will be staying in a rehabilitation centre and getting the bus to work each day.

“I wouldn’t be going if I thought this was going to be like a holiday,” she said. “I am seeing this as going to another country to do a job and I hope I will make a difference to these children by supporting these doctors.

“I have no idea what the centre or the food will be like, it’s completely unknown.”

Sandy has thrown herself into any charity or community work she can in the six years she has lived in Billingshurst.

She is secretary of the community partnership, treasurer of the village’s summer show, plus she volunteers at the local arm chair exercise class and she recently did a fire walk for the Dame Vera Lyn Trust.

But it seems that no amount of charitable work is ever enough for Sandy.

“I’m currently trying to get the airline to allow me a bigger baggage allowance so I can take some children’s clothes with me.

“If I can do anything for any body it seems such a waste not to do it. I’ll do anything, within reason!”