MORE than 30 Scouts from Hampshire embarked on the adventure of a lifetime as they travelled more than 2,500 miles to an African country.

Thirty-four Explorer Scouts from the county took part in a host of community projects during their two-and-a-half week expedition to The Gambia.

Scout groups in Hampshire and the West African country have a long-running link which has seen dozens of youngsters take part in projects there since 1989.

Before they travelled to the country the Scouts had to raise £1,000 each to help with community projects, and organised events such as frock swaps and concerts.

The expedition was led by the Magellan Explorer Scout Unit from Copythorne, but also included Scouts from Southampton and other parts of the New Forest.

When the Scouts, along with nine leaders, got to The Gambia they helped in a number of community projects in the town of Soma, in the heart of the country, as well as meeting local Scouts.

Daily Echo:

Amy Franklin, 17, from New Forest North Explorer Scouts

Over the course of the two weeks, they taught primary school children in the town, repainted a mosque and rebuilt a compound.

They also distributed mosquito nets and repainted schools.

They were welcomed back by former Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Dame Mary Fagan, who is president of the Kaira Konko Scout Active Support group which supports Scouting in Soma.

Daily Echo:

Vicky, 17, from New Forest North Explorer Scouts, and Georgina, 15, from Itchen South Explorer Scouts

She and family members heard the group’s tales at a special event at Copythorne Parish Hall.

Daily Echo:

Brook Matthews, 17, from New Forest North Explorer Scouts

County commissioner Adam Jollans, who went to The Gambia with the Scouts, said: “It was absolutely amazing.

“It had a big benefit for the Scouts.

They have seen the conditions people lived in but also saw the strong sense of community there, so I think there was a lot of learning from both sides.”