This week, we hope to book the flights for the teachers and pupils who will arrive in Liverpool on 6th June 2019. In the weeks that follow, we will go into negotiations on how that itinerary in June will be organised. We will do this is the spirit of unity and friendship, determined to set out a shared future for our new partnership.
Together with our valued partners, the British Council, Communications Plus O2, the Liverpool Philharmonic, Billinge Junior Football Club, the Rotary Club and Sightbox UK, we will begin the preparations for the educational offer in June, when the people must view our work and pass judgement on it.
In the coming months, I reach out to you all to support us in our endeavours. The negotiations will be long and intense. Funding is yet to be fully assured and, to that end, I invite all of you to either participate in, or contribute to, our main fund-raising event during the preparations – the Liverpool Half-Marathon/10 Mile Run which takes place on 10th March. Our intrepid negotiating team will shortly give more details on how to enter or make a financial contribution. This is, of course, a pre-requisite of the negotiating period – that the money is paid up front. We do not intend to renege on our commitments.
On 14th of February, a parallel negotiating team will leave the UK for Freetown to enter into a series of meetings, training commitments and cultural events which will be seen as a key milestone towards the June events. This summit will be attended by representatives of all parties in order to agree the next stage of our negotiations. We wish all of the team well – Jeremy, Nacho, Claire, Sophie, Joan, Paul, Margie, Dave, Dom, Ali, Emily, Rob and Megan.
Of course, I am only too aware of the need to consult trustees, teachers, and those more widely who are great supporters of our work. It would be wholly unsatisfactory to ignore your views and your democratic voice. I therefore propose a meaningful gathering which I intend to schedule for Saturday 9th March during the afternoon at a venue to be decided. Further details will be circulated and, in the spirit of unity and compromise, I hope that agreement can be found.
I hope I have always shown that I am willing to talk, and to put lots of things on the table. Too many things usually. At any time, do not hesitate to pick up the phone to talk, send an e-mail, or simply come along and put whatever you like on my table. We can then talk, in the spirit of compromise, about what is on my table, or indeed anyone else’s table.
I finish by thanking you for your continuing support for this complicated and unprecedented undertaking. I have pledged to see this through in the interests of our schools, our city and our nation, and I remain undaunted in the face of any obstacles that may lie in our way.
Here is a table (a computer table, though I suppose you can still put things on it if you so wish) with a list of the travelling party. Green section is FANO Primary School, Waterloo. Blue section is Milton Margai School for the Blind, Freetown.