Colin Creasey is no ordinary teacher embarking on an African exchange project – the zoot suit-wearing eccentric plays the ukelele as part of his unique curriculum.
In the early hours of February 13, Colin, who also runs the Ukie-Toones ukelele gathering at Totternhoe FC, will fly out to St Aloysius school in Nairobi.
His ‘Ukes For Kenya’ programme is his way of making good on a promise he made when he was at the school last year – “I will return with loads of ukeleles”.
Colin, of Suncote Close, Dunstable, who learned to play the ukelele during his first trip to Nairobi, told the Gazette: “I saw a documentary on education in Africa and really wanted to get involved.
“I wanted to do something different – what better experience than to sit in my tent at night learning how to play the ukelele?”
It wasn’t long before Colin was confident enough to take his ukelele into the classroom.
Colin, a teacher at Cedars Upper School in Leighton Buzzard, said: “Some children were learning the alphabet and I thought I’d get my ukelele out.
“I started strumming a different tune for each of the letters and the kids were really getting into it. I thought ‘this is very powerful’.”
Thanks to Colin’s involvement in the teaching exchange the school has gone from strength to strength in the last year, with new investment securing electricity and five computers.
He said: “It’s made it a really popular school because it’s been talked about.”
Colin and his team have already raised more than £1,000 for supplies and gifts for the children, including 15 ukeleles, stationery and games.
Totternhoe FC are hosting a fundraising event on Friday, February 8 – see www.totternhoefc.com for details.