A DARWEN councillor has paid to join a charity trip to help children in the north of Gambia.

Coun Stephanie Brookfield will head to the developing African country with youth football team Darwen Spartans in January.

The trip is one of the initiatives of national charity Football Gambia, which promotes educating and developing communities in the country through football.

Coun Brookfield, who was elected to represent the Earcroft ward in May’s elections, said she was looking forward to the trip.

She said: “When Spartans chairman Mark Atkinson came to the town council meeting I thought, ‘what a good idea’.

“I am a big football fan and I am really looking forward to it.

“I will be an emotional wreck by the time I come back, though!

“This will not be a ‘jolly’ by any stretch of the imagination, they will be long days of hard work with very little food.”

The trip will see the team help to set up two nurseries and infant schools in the villages of Sittanunku and Cheesay.

The group will work with children, including orphans, as well as helping teachers and running football coaching sessions.

Coun Brookfield said there were plans in place to look at twinning the villages with Darwen.

She said: “We will take some mementoes over to give to the children.

“We are hoping to twin Darwen with the villages.”

Mark Atkinson said it would be the group’s second trip, with five from the club, including himself, heading to Africa.

He said: “It all stemmed from when we sent kits out a few years ago.

“We had three lads go out last time and it really made a difference to their lives.

“They all got jobs on the back of it and they have done a lot of work in the community in Darwen.

“I have spoken to the Football Gambia founder Ian Stapleton about Stephanie coming over and he was very pleased.

“He said he was looking into arranging for us to meet the village elders and council members over there.”

The group jets off to Gambia on January 26.