A LIFELONG ambition to work with animals in Africa is about to come true for an amateur actress from Tadcaster.

Rebecca Hawkins, 20, will fly to Zambia in the New Year with the organisation African Impact and work as a volunteer with the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Orphan Care Project there. She will combine this project with lion conservation and community work. Working closely with African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT), Becky will also be involved in ground-breaking lion conservation in Africa.

Becky, a former Tadcaster Grammar School student, is very excited about fulfilling her dream and hopes that ultimately these invaluable experiences may lead to a permanent job in Africa.

She said: “I cannot believe I am going. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I love chimpanzees and I am so excited, but I couldn’t have done this without my Mum and Dad. I owe them a massive thank you,” she added. Becky will spend one month with each project, but she is also looking forward to all the extra adventures on offer. “I have the opportunity to go bungee jumping off Victoria Falls and kayaking – how amazing is all this – it is all a dream come true!”

However, before Becky embarks upon this once in a lifetime experience, she has another important role to fulfil with animals of a different kind.

Becky is playing the lead in Snow White and the Several Dwarfs with Tadcaster Theatre Company this month and will be surrounded by squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, ladybirds and other woodland creatures.

“Being a member of Tadcaster Theatre Company has helped enormously with my confidence and enabled me to communicate with people of all ages,” said Becky. As a volunteer in Africa I will be mixing with the local communities there and am hoping to involve the children in drama and singing.”

Danny Middleton, destination manager with African Impact says that Becky will fit in really well to life out there. “Her passion for wildlife certainly comes across strongly and this type of project is perfect for someone with that passion,” he said. “Our projects are certainly a two-way thing – the positive impact that we make in protecting Africa’s wildlife and offering education to underprivileged communities can also be a life-changing experience for volunteers like Rebecca. I have no doubt she will make a real difference.”

Living and working in the beautiful remote camp alongside other volunteers will no doubt be a totally different environment to living in Tadcaster, but Becky has the support of all her friends in the Theatre Company, who wish her well for the future. “We hope Becky will keep in touch on the Company’s facebook page with photos of all her experiences and we certainly hope she can continue with her love of singing and acting and encourage youngsters in Africa,” said Catherine Marshall, Chairman of TTC.

If you would like to see Becky treading the boards as Snow White, she will be performing on the stage at the Riley-Smith Hall until Saturday (25 November). Tickets at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/tadcastertheatrecompany or by telephoning 07484 305436.