Couple’s memory lives on in charity efforts

Pauline Hougerwerf (left) and Eileen Bates at a water well. Picture submitted
Pauline Hougerwerf (left) and Eileen Bates at a water well. Picture submitted

Kenilworth Lions Club has carried on the work of a former member and his wife in bringing clean water to hundreds of desperate African villagers.

The charity group has completed the latest round of fundraising to improve water wells sunk in Niger in 2005 in the name of Mr and Mrs Bates.

The campaign to bring fresh drinking water to villagers in remote villages was started by former Lion Gordon Bates after he learnt of the desperate need for water in sub-Saharan Niger.

He managed to persuade others to team up with Lions clubs across the Midlands and in Niger. And before long, £77,000 had been raised between the clubs to sink ten deep wells to provide fresh water to over 25,000 people.

Sadly, Gordon died before the project was finished. But the work continued through his wife, Eileen who carried on with the help of the groups and Pauline Hoogerwerf from Marston Green Lions club.

But in January 2011 it was found that the wells were in need of repair and suffering from blockages as desert sand blew across and built up in the wells’ shafts.

Kenilworth Lions are now praising fundraising efforts in the town after another £20,000 came in to help fit all-important weather covers and complete repairs so that a safe and fresh water supply could continue.

Timothy Lee from the club, described the pair as “incredible” in thanking the town for helping make such a sad tale such a success.

“The wells are now up and running again, but by a sad irony Eileen Bates died before the repair work was complete, just as happened to Gordon,” he said.

“The wells are the source of clean healthy water for so many and act as a fitting memorial to two remarkable Kenilworth people.

“Thank you to everyone how helped to raise this and make it all happen.”

Some of the money was raised by Lion Bob Stear through sponsorship when he ran the Stockholm Marathon.