Another chapter draws to a close - a blog by Andy Lee

As another Project Africa chapter draws to a close and, given that my former colleagues, now friends, have already blogged the things we have achieved and the emotional roller-coaster we have all experienced, I thought I’d end the blogs on a light note with a celebration of the individuals who have worked, played and laughed hard all trip.

Whilst naturally difficult to write something that is topical to all  15,000-plus William Hill employees around the world, hopefully you’ll find something to rib them on their return to their day jobs if you know them. If not, look them up some time if you get the chance – they’re a bunch worth getting to know. Naturally, most of what happened stays on tour.

“Style isn’t important, it’s  everything”, could have been Cyril Bekoe’s October 2014 quote.

Despite high 30`s temperatures and hard labour with the sun managing to fry eggs on the jeeps’ radiators, Cyril managed to maintain a high level of stylistic control with his black Levi 501s, designer shirt, cowboy hat and boots and meticulously coiffed hair. Even mixing cement, Cyril brought an element of “je ne sais quoi” to the back-breaking event.

“The bear in the wood”, Andy Lidbetter wasn’t just here for the concrete mixing.  Whenever he gets the tap on his shoulder, he moves like a gazelle and gets right into the thick of it – team-player and leader at the same time. Ask him about the tap on the shoulder when he gets back.

“Words don’t come easily to me” were lyrics to a song, by FR David that I remember from my youth. It’s not a song Ollie Humphries has obviously heard or relates to – he’s a man’s sharp with the tongue and a king of the one-liners. It’s surprising his brain has capacity for anything else in his life. It was surprising, therefore, when he told us his wife wears the trousers at home so maybe he’s just letting loose on tour. I genuinely wish his retail team all the best of luck in the future.

Linzi Martin, William Hill’s HOME Hero, has been our own Paisley Pocket Rocket. A pocket in stature, she stood taller than us all in terms of how permanently Happy, Organised, Motivated and Energetic she has been all trip. With people like Linzi, I can’t help but feel it’s clear we’re Better Together.

Paul Iredale, our personal development thought-leader and in-camp psychologist, provided us with some assessments of our character and mental strength during the trip. Apparently, we’re all passionate but also mad, which is an interesting combination. And I thought these appraisals were theoretical nonsense. It seems they’re spot on.

Despite having no hair-dryer or straighteners, Nicola Frampton admirably managed to put this Imperial-age oversight behind her and managed to maintain her in-built motto of making sure what she said was straight to the point even if her hair’s not.

Sometimes it was difficult to believe we were in the back of beyond with Matt Warner permanently on his blackberry as per usual. No-one else’s phones seemed to work but Matt provided us with the latest scores and world news to keep us distracted from the tiredness, the flies and the long drop. I am informed that after a dance at the kid’s assembly, he also provided more clarity as to why we’ve never seen him cutting some shapes at the local Gibraltar night-club..

For Action Man Meir Deutsch, nothing seemed to phase him and no challenge appeared too great. Our daily re-hydration tablets, referred to by some as “sea water in a sachet” are normally diluted with water to numb the gagging effect. Meir inexplicably decided to spice it up a bit with an undiluted down-in-one. He’s stepping up to the next level on our journey back with the  objective of “tackling a lion with a fork”! It’s ironic we built a medical facility this last week. Maybe we should admit him for some treatment.

Partly thanks to his journey all the way from Oz, Olly Scott has had some decent time off to allow for reflection during this trip. Whilst we all decided to off-load most of our personal stuff to locals and the local area during the trip, it’s fair to say Olly has off-loaded a little more than all of us. That said, I understand that one of the amazing local workers, David, did in fact refuse his Calvin Klein boxers.

For me, I’ll just say it’s been my pleasure to have spent such an out-of-our-normal-world week with such an amazing group of individuals with great values and principles – humble, committed and self-less team-players with great integrity to name but a few. But above all, they were amusing and extremely enjoyable company. That’s William Hill people to a tee.