A TEENAGE volunteering enthusiast from Musselburgh has begun fundraising for her trip of a lifetime to South Africa.

Charley Millar is in her final year at Musselburgh Grammar School and needs to raise £6,200 for her volunteering expedition.

She plans to leave East Lothian behind and begin her trip in August next year.

The 17-year-old currently helps out at a number of children’s clubs, including East Lothian Special Needs Playscheme, Star Youth Club and various school holiday and residential play schemes.

Charley is also very musical, being involved in her school choir and constantly singing around the house.

She has clocked up more than 2,000 hours of volunteering so far but wanted to do more and that is when she came across Project Trust.

Established as a charity in 1968, Project Trust have volunteering opportunities and gap year placements in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

It selects 300 people annually from across the UK to go overseas and work on teaching, social care and outward bound projects.

Charley wanted to have a gap year after she finished school and thought this would be the perfect way to do it.

After submitting an application form, she was invited onto a selection course which involved spending a week on the Isle of Coll.

And it was quite the journey to get there, as her mum Stacey explained: “She had to get a train from Edinburgh to Glasgow, then Glasgow to Oban. She then had to stay in a backpackers overnight.

“They were a wee bit delayed so ended up doing some work in Oban before getting the ferry across to the Isle of Coll.”

The selection week allowed Charley to get to know her peers and see if she would enjoy her placement by completing volunteering work on the island.

It also allowed the trust to see if she was capable and up to the challenge ahead.

In her original application form and during the selection week, Charley selected South Africa as her first preference.

Coming home from Coll on the Friday, she found out the following Thursday she had been selected.

The Project Trust staff decide which projects the volunteer would be best suited to and they agreed with her first choice, resulting in her being placed at South Africa.

Charley told the Courier: “I really want to make relationships when I’m over there.

“In the volunteering work I do with disabled children, we have to be their friend not their carer, it’s all about building and having good relationships with them.

“I work with kids so I’m going to do that when I’m over there.”

Speaking about her daughter’s work with children, Stacey said: “She’s really good at what she does and she will get quite a lot from it.”

During her time in South Africa, where her dad and some other family members were born, Charley will create some clubs and projects for children.

“I want the clubs that I start to keep going,” she said. “You can put your own stamp on things. Hopefully the ones I start will impact the kids over there.”

It might be a year away, but work is already under way and keeping Charley busy.

Along with all of her volunteering and extra-curricular activities, she has a job, is in her last year of school and needs to keep up work on her fundraising.

Speaking about her daughter, Stacey said: “I feel immensely proud that she is going to be doing something as amazing as this. She’s a very independent person as well.

“I was a young mum at 17, I don’t regret it and love all my kids, but I’m quite envious. I wish I could have done something like this.

“The house is going to be quite quiet without her but I’m putting all of my energy into helping her fundraise and doing all the mum things.”

There is one positive about the trip though, according to Stacey: “I will get to go over to visit, it might not be till six months in as they want them to settle in first.

“I’ve always wanted to do a safari so hopefully we can arrange that which will be amazing.”

Charley is overwhelmed at the support she’s had so far, saying: “They’re really supportive at school and great at helping me fundraise, my friends and family as well. I’ve got lots of things planned.”

Visit Charley’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/Charley2SouthAfrica for more information. To donate to Charley’s fundraising appeal, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Charley2SouthAfrica