Grantham King’s School students help communities on trip of a lifetime to Borneo

The King's School Borneo trip.
The King's School Borneo trip.

Students and staff from the King’s School enjoyed the trip of a lifetime and gained invaluable experience when they visited the island of Borneo during the summer.

The trip was organised by Mr Morrow and involved a range of volunteer projects helping to improve standards of living for rural communities.

Michael Taggart in Borneo with the King's School.

Michael Taggart in Borneo with the King's School.

Students took part in a forest regeneration project to protect wildlife and the environment. The only way to travel to this site was on a boat through the jungle along the Kinabatangan River where the group saw some amazing wildlife. During the trip the boys saw poisonous pit vipers, scorpions, exotic spiders and thousands of fire ants.

The group stayed in camps including Camp Tinangol, Batah Puteh, Sabah Tea Long House and Camp Narawang. Each of the camps offered a different kind of experience. From Tinagol’s traditional long houses of the headhunters tribe, to Sabah Tea Long Houses which were located on one of the only organic tea plantations in the world.

The most challenging, and rewarding, time was the jungle trek. Hiking through the jungle and sleeping in a hammock at night was a true adventure. Some of the route followed the Death March in which Australian and British prisoners of war were marched through the jungle. The trek was 45km over a five day period – with no showers or proper toilets.

King’s headmaster Frank Hedley said: “The Borneo expedition 2016 provided King’s School boys with a wonderful experience.  Taking part in a forest regeneration project, through to a five day, 45km jungle trek, put each boy out of his comfort zone and helped them to learn new skills in the process of supporting some of the disadvantaged communities of Borneo.  This excellent expedition will have a profound and lasting impact on the boys.”

Grantham IT analyst Michael Taggart swapped computer care for building bus stops in Borneo when he joined the students.

Michael, a Senior IT Analyst at Grantham-based specialist IT support firm Datcom which works with King’s, said: “The 28 students’ efforts to fund the trip over the last two years were put in danger when one of the three required members of staff broke their ankle. Luckily, I was able to step in to lend a hand as they needed a certain number of volunteers to help.”

Michael said the jungle trek was a real challenge. He said: “Getting back to nature in the rainforest meant carrying our supplies, water, food and shelter during daily treks as well as setting up camp, starting fires, making wildlife traps and cooking dinners from scratch.

“Thankfully, we were offered a bit of rest and recuperation with a two-day stay at a Sabah tea plantation and visits to local hot springs.”

Michael added: “The opportunity to interact closely with the endangered animals at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre was a highlight for all of us. After that we were welcomed back into central Sabah where we built four bus stops, four concrete drainage systems and various murals across both the kindergarten and the main school.

“Despite only having four days to complete the work, the schools seemed really impressed with the team’s work.

“I would go as far to say that it was the best experience I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve met and got to know a great group of people and done some really satisfying work to help local communities.

“I feel like I’ve actually managed to make a difference in the world.”

Peter Kirkbride, Bursar and Director of Resources at The King’s School, said the school was delighted to welcome Michael on board the trip.

He added: “In the two years since we started working with Datcom, the working relationship has deepened and Michael’s ‎involvement is a great demonstration of how the school and embedded contractors can work together seamlessly.”