News from Oxtopia: Eminent entomologist names rare butterfly ‘Sylvia Vetta’, a message from Brian Aldiss and an inspirational project led by Charlotte Bannister Parker.

As well as inviting local castaways to the launch of Brushstrokes in Time on February 2 at Blackwell’s in Oxford @ 6.45pm  (free but booking preferable.)  I inquired about  life on Oxtopia. This was TV naturalist  Dr George McGavin’ssurprising reply.

“I have been exploring a remote high valley on Oxtopia for more than a year now and have made myself a rather comfortable camp which suits me very well. The water is clear and fresh and there is an abundance of fruit as well as some rather tasty freshwater fish. I don’t think any of the other Oxtopians venture very far from the shore and I have only seen the odd footprint when I move further afield. The forest and meadows up here are absolutely brimming with wildlife and will be the devil of a job to describe and catalogue them all before I become too frail. One rather nice butterfly, which is undoubtedly new to science (as many here are!) I hope to name in your honour.” George McGavin
bbc.co.uk/monkeyplanet
Brian Aldiss apologised because he has mobility problems but sent this inspiring message
“One hears that old folk often die of boredom. I believe I may die of something this year, since I’m in my nineties; I can only say that I shall be perfectly furious if it happens when I’m in the middle of a novel…”

CASTAWAY NEWS. CHARLOTTE BANNISTER PARKER ,IKE GARCON and NANCY HUNT
I am proud of my village Kennington on the edge of Oxford. It is unique in that each year for 47 years it has raised money for an overseas development project.
The KOA year usually begins with voting for a project. This year is different .At the AGM I proposed that for 2016 – my last as chair of KOA (the first was 1992!) we will raise money for three charities with which we have developed close ties. We propose to share whatever we raise equally between Lunch 4 Learning, the Nasio Trust and the Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF).They are all run by people I have had the privilege to castaway. All three have submitted inspirational projects. Many people have told me how moved they were by last years’ charity. Standing Voice works in Tanzania with people with Albinism. Prejudice and fear often leads to violence against them. The Children’s Radio Foundation proposes to follow up the help we gave in setting up skin cancer prevention clinics to stop sufferers of albinism dying before they are 35.
The Children’s Radio Foundation will work with Standing Voice. It will train young people with albinism together with young people from their neighbourhood who are not sufferers to be radio reporters. Radio is an exceptionally powerful medium in Africa. CRF now presided over by Charlotte Bannister Parker, has an amazing track record of giving young people a voice which helps them to bring about change in social attitudes.
Lunch 4 Learning was founded by Ike Garcon : When we supported Lunch 4 Learning in 2012, we linked St Swithun’s School to a school in Uganda. Our school council raised enough money to repair the water tank at that school in Jinja thus restoring its precious water supply. Lunch 4 Learning is working on an ambitious project in the district of Kamuli to provide a storage system for water harvesting that supplies water for cooking, washing, sanitation and micro irrigation. If we raise £6000 for them it will provide a supply of water for three schools through the installation of large water tanks.

Nancy and me
The Nasio Trust was founded by Nancy Hunt .Did any of you see the Regional TV reports made by young people from Wallingford School who went to Kenya? They were trained by CRF and that project happened because of KOA bringing CRF and Nasio together. With the money we raised in 2014 Nasio built a Spirulina Production Greenhouse with 10-tanks, producing 13kg of protein-rich Spirulina monthly which is currently used for the most malnourished and HIV+ children they support. Nasio would like to increase production to produce a commercially viable amount of spirulina with the objective of the Kenyan communities to be self-sufficient by 2020, thus reducing or eliminating the need for future reliance on funding from the UK. www.koa.org.uk