Last Grenada shipment brings ex Bute teacher’s tale full circle

David Hanschell with Patricia McArthur from Rothesay Library and some of the 17 boxes of books which will form part of the Surplus Educational Supplies Foundation's last shipment to Grenada.
David Hanschell with Patricia McArthur from Rothesay Library and some of the 17 boxes of books which will form part of the Surplus Educational Supplies Foundation's last shipment to Grenada.

The last shipment of surplus educational supplies from Bute assembled by a former primary school teacher on the island will leave the UK bound for the Caribbean island of Grenada later this month.

A container due to leave Portsmouth on board a containuer ship on April 12 includes a consignment of 17 boxes of surplus books from Rothesay Library - the final items from Bute to be donated to the Surplus Educational Supplies Foundation set up by Rothesay resident David Hanschell.

The books, and the shipment, will complete the circle of a story which began way back in 2004, when David - then a teacher at North Bute Primary in Port Bannatyne - encouraged his class to bring in pencils, erasers, rulers and other classroom items to be sent to Grenada to help in the rebuilding efforts after the island nation was devastated by Hurricane Ivan.

Inspired by his pupils’ generosity, David decided to take the process one step further and set up the Foundation to appeal for donations of unwanted items - from books and stationery right up to tables, chairs and cupboards - from schools, colleges and local authorities throughout Scotland, many of which were undertaking major building projects which would otherwise have seen redundant equipment thrown into skips.

“Right from day one, it’s been a privilege to do this,” David told The Buteman, “but the really great thing has been the way so many people of goodwill have stepped up to the plate.”

And that goodwill has continued right up to the end: the job of taking that last Rothesay Library shipment on the first leg of its Caribbean journey - to the Renfrew depot of logistics firm Advantage Worldwide (UK) Ltd - was taken on by local firm 1st Choice Transport, with the cost met by another Rothesay business, The Bike Shed.

From Renfrew the books - and the rest of the container’s contents - will be taken to the Freightliner rail terminal in Coatbridge, for transport by train to the south coast of England, before being taken across the Atlantic by Geest Line, who specialise in transporting goods by sea between Europe and the Caribbean.

In addition to the early shipments to Grenada, containers by the Foundation have also gone to Ghana, Nicaragua, Liberia and Jamaica in the course of the last decade.

And David’s story isn’t quite at an end: he still has a unit loaded with educational resources at an industrial estate in Edinburgh, some of which has recently been taken to the Arsal refugee camp in the Lebanon under the auspices of the Edinburgh Direct Aid charity.

“I just hope all the stuff sent out from Scotland has been well used,” David said, “and I hope others might be able to take it up where I’ve left off.

“There have been so many folk involved over the years, and I’m enormously grateful to them all.”