Gail whitcomb – golfers that make the world a better place

Paul and I were fortunate enough to buy a property on the Arabella Golf Estate in 2003. We knew we were blessed but it was only when we started to visit the Aftercare hut a few years later did we stop taking the beauty surrounding us for granted.  We knew that we had to make a difference and give something back. 

When we told a friend we wanted to provide some support to those less well off, we were introduced to Irene – Mambesi’s mum (Mambesi is the young girl third from the left) – who started an aftercare club to help the working parents in Botrivier. The room was an extension of her shack and Irene gave her time lovingly and freely.  Irene is the lady in the second photo giving out little cakes to the children.  We visited once a week.  We bought and gave out colouring books, crayons and biscuits.

My first initiative, after talking to Irene, was to deliver 1,000 primary school books to the Botrivier Primary School from the UK.  It took 18 months to get the books and to get them delivered but we managed it and the books were given to the school to add to their library.

We knew Mambesi was a clever girl when we met her.  She studied at home for the first few years, without electricity and with no running water and each year at school, she won awards for coming top in her form.  We were always invited to the school’s award ceremony even though we couldn’t understand a word of Afrikaans.  Mambesi was a Xhosa child, studying in an Afrikaans school.

A favourite pastime of the children was drawing and colouring in. Paul and I would help serve them food, prepared by Irene and then Paul would help do the dishes!

After a couple of years, Irene and the children were given an upgraded facility! A very kind lady from Switzerland donated money to LuckyPoint to help provide a much improved hut for the children and LuckyPoint started to provide the children with the food each day, initially cooked by Irene but now cooked by Maria who took over from Irene.

While Mambesi was still at school, she would also come to help Maria look after the children.  The Arabella Ladies Golf section used to provide additional funds to the Aftercare from the charitable donations they received from our very successful Ladies Open golf days.

All of the awards that Mambesi won speak volumes about her hard work and determination.

Approximately 4 years ago, we managed to get Mambesi enrolled with the Arabella Scholarship Educational Foundation Trust where she was given golf coaching lessons but more importantly, she was provided with the funds to go to continue her secondary education.  The Trust has been amazing.  They not only provided funding to Mambesi for her school and for her University education, they are also providing much needed support to a young man from Botrivier called Damian, who a couple of weeks ago became Arabella’s Matchplay champion 2022.

Mambesi practiced her golf by hitting tee pegs out of the ground.  Unfortunately, golf took a back seat to her studies, which was the right decision for her since she is now studying Accountancy at Stellenbosch University, thanks to the ongoing support of the Arabella Scholarship Educational Foundation Trust.