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When a Little John makes a big difference...
2011 is a landmark year for LittleJohn, the Hampshire-based bathroom retailer, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. Founded by Bill Gosney and his wife Pearl in 1991, the family-run business has flourished over the years. Today it employs 18 people and has designed and installed around 2,500 quality bathrooms across Hampshire, West Sussex and Surrey.
Bill Gosney now hands over the reigns of Managing Director to his son, Simon Gosney, (who has been with the company for 15 years) and daughter, Sarah Fascione, (who joined three years ago assumes the role of Financial Director). As Bill and Pearl make way for the next generation, they have also thought hard about how to commemorate this significant anniversary.
"After 20 successful years of selling bathrooms and toilets we felt it right to give something back," explains Bill. "In the UK, we take clean running water and good sanitation for granted, but elsewhere in the world they are not so fortunate."
Bill's interest in the project designed to give something back, was ignited when he began talks with Doug Jones from the Buriton Village-to-Village Group and its aptly named 'Buy-a-Bog' charity campaign.
The group helps small rural villages across Ghana, West Africa to improve facilities and reduce disease by the provision of toilets. Situated a six hour drive from the coast, Dompoaise was identified by the charity as a village worthy of help. With no electricity or running water, Dompoaise is really off the beaten track and locals have to walk half a mile to the nearest well.
Toilet block (photo left) contains four private cubicles (two for boys, two for girls) and a hand-washing tap fed by the rainwater harvesting tank. The gates prevents access of wild animals.
Subsistence farming is the main way of life there with a few cocoa farmers lucky enough to be part of a Fair Trade cooperative. Malaria is rife and the risk of germs and disease spreading is high as there are only a couple of public squat 'pit latrines' for everyone to use and most just go in the bushes or the grass near to paths and houses.
Littlejohn's contribution is the donation of around £3,500 to build a toilet block for the local village school. In August 2011, Bill met with Doug and local chief engineer Moses Akuffo who will manage the construction with the help of local labourers. Equipped with four toilet cubicles and a hand washing tap from rainwater harvested into a large polytank, the new block will provide somewhere clean and safe for the girls and boys to go to the toilet - for the first time.
Children will learn to wash their hands after using the toilet, which will contribute significantly to reducing disease and young girls will also be encouraged to stay in school for longer. At the moment, when girls reach puberty they go home as the school does not provide the basic sanitary facilities that they need every month.
The toilet block is scheduled for completion in summer 2012 and Bill and the Littlejohn team will be following progress every step of the way. Bill comments: "We think this is a fantastic cause and in an age where we and our children have so much, were inspired by the fact that the humble toilet, even in its most primitive form, can really change lives".
The charity also trains local masons to build individual toilet cubicles for households. Around £50.00 of charitable donation covers the cost of materials needed to build each cubicle and the local people find the resources to pay the mason. The work of the Buriton Village-to-Village Group also extends beyond the realms of toilets. If you'd like to find out more visit www.buriton.info
Photo right shows: From left: Doug Jones - Member of the Buriton Village-to-Village Group, Moses Akuffo - Chief Engineer who will oversee the toilet block project, Bill Gosney - Founder of Littlejohn Bathrooms
Tel: 01730 231050
Fax: 01730 264733
23rd September 2011