A SOMERSET builder and his staff have scooped a 'People of the Year' award for volunteering to build a school in an impoverished African village.
Mark Orchard, a member of the Federation of Master Builders, and five employees from his Weston-super-Mare firm Clayton Construction, met PM Tony Blair before receiving their award.
While on holiday in Kenya, Mark was so upset by the pooreducational facilities in the village of Dabaso, with classes of 90 children, that he wanted to help out.
Funds were raised and together with workmates Chris Fisher, Andy Difford, Reg Daniels and Dave Rayner, Mark returned to the village of Dabaso.
They worked in temperatures of 120 deg F, without electricity and running water, and with unfamiliar materials such as hand-dressed coral and rubble blocks.
Yet the schoolroom was built in a week and the famous five were honoured by being made village elders.
Villagers lent a hand and learned how to make moulds for concrete blocks and lintels. The hope is that these skills will be passed on to village children who could work to help finance the school in future.
Interest in the project has been so great that a film of the expedition is expected soon, with 10 per cent of any profits going to the people of Dabaso.