A Bakewell couple are preparing to return to one the poorest parts of the Caribbean to help improve the quality of life for people living there.
Alyse and Ian Ross celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary yesterday (Wednesday), and to mark the occasion they are returning to Nicaragua, in Central America, to help out with the Peace and Hope Trust’s working party.
Ian, 70, heard about the charity while at a prayer breakfast in Herefordshire 15 years ago and felt passionate about the project, however work commitments meant he did not make his first visit to the country until 2011.
He said: “We were working on an extension for a clinic and I saw a little boy rummage through a rubbish tip, find a half-eaten pack of sweets, dust them off and eat them, and it broke my heart.”
Ian made several journeys without Alyse, now 67, who was a teacher and then an administration manager before she retired.
She said: “Going out there really puts life into perspective for us.
“We have never been materialistic people, but it has helped us to be more thankful and keep our feet on the ground.”
The couple met nearly two decades ago. Ian’s son Andrew and Alyse’s niece brought them together, after they had met several times at dinner parties.
Prior to that, Alyse had suffered an accident that doctors thought was going to be fatal, but she beat the odds.
She said: “Ian asked me to marry him after we had been dating for only two weeks and I was unsure about how my recovery would be. He said simply that life is for living, so that’s what we did.”
The couple were married five months later and say they are still just as strong now and have never looked back.
When they are not helping out in Nicaragua, they love to travel, although Alyse joked that with Ian’s RAF background he has probably seen more countries than most people.
She added: “We have done a geriatric gap year and visited Australia and New Zealand, and when Andrew was in China we spent six weeks there.”
The Peace and Hope Trust was founded in 1990 and works with the poorest communities in a country which is set between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Ian said: “It brings a joy to my heart to be able to do something which I know is helping people, even when we aren’t there.”
The couple moved to Bakewell three years ago and Alyse said: “Ten years ago the charity bought a coffee farm that was struggling. Since then we have helped people into work and provided them with the tools to empower themselves, and now more children are being educated which is great.”
The coffee from Nicaragua is now being sold at Smyllies grocers in Bakewell. The group depart later this month and need donations of children’s shoes, because even though primary education is free, children must wear a uniform, but some families cannot even afford this.
To donate, visit www.peaceandhope.org.uk.