Opinion: Travelling the world ‘forever dear to me’

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From a young age, my grandfather would tell me of his adventures working on tall ships and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro later in life.

This inspired me to get out and see the world and caused me to develop a true passion for travelling.

Jemma Stocks - this time, on holiday in the Grand Canyon, Arizona.

Jemma Stocks - this time, on holiday in the Grand Canyon, Arizona.

I was lucky enough to go abroad every year as a child, something I do not take for granted and as soon as I became old enough I knew that I had to travel as much as I could.

My first big trip without parental supervision was to Kenya for a month at 18 years old. Two years prior, an organisation came to my school and proposed a volunteering trip to help improve the local communities and wildlife around the country. It was no small decision to accept this trip as a serious amount of cash was needed in order to cover all the costs.

The next two years flew by and I finally had enough money from fundraising events, my own savings and very generous family members.

As the day grew closer my nerves grew too, I debated whether I could go ahead with it but I very quickly realised this is what I have been waiting for, my chance to do something for other people and to see Africa.

The day to leave arrived, I got to the minibus and there were a lot of tears, surprisingly not from me. From the other members of my team who all hugged their families’ goodbye, I raced on the bus as fast as I could and was raring to go.

Arriving in Kenya was the most amazing experience, the thing that first struck me was the friendliness and trustworthiness of the people. They would wave as you drove past and a woman happily handed over her baby as she chatted to her friend so we could look at how cute he was. To us building a house made of mud, quite poorly put together classroom desks and handing out a pencil to the hundreds of children seemed such a small deal but to those people it made a world of difference.

It was the most humbling experience I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of. I have a deep passion for the care and welfare of animals so to get up close and personal with some of Africa’s most magnificent creatures was completely unforgettable.

Elephants, giraffes, lions, and cheetahs I saw it all.

What was even more incredible was the opportunity to help preserve these priceless locals for future generations to admire.

The lions did make me a little nervous as I slept in my unguarded tent, however I like to think they knew I was there to help, not harm so they would leave me alone, that’s what I convinced myself of anyway.

The biggest thing I will be grateful for after visiting this country is the use of a flushing toilet, especially without the fear of a snake slithering under the door (which happened on more than one occasion).

I hope to soon go back to Africa and many other places around the world to expand my every growing portfolio of countries I have visited.

I am lucky in my job at Dunsley Hall - I come into contact with visitors from all over the world which gives me an insight into other ways of life and to me travelling is a truly priceless experience and something that will forever be dear to my heart.