TWO hundred toothbrushes are winging their way to South Africa.

Michael Main, Acres Lane, Upton, will travel to South Africa on Christmas day to deliver the toothbrushes and toothpaste to children in schools set up by the Cooperative.

Mr Main, director on the northern regional board of the Co-operative Group, is visiting with his partner and daughter.

“The co-operative has given a lot of money from the premium on every bottle of wine they’ve sold,” he said.

“It has helped set up schools for nought to five-year-olds because the education system there starts at six.

“They’ve paid for workshops made out of wine vats for women to do craft work, a community centre and a community bus.

“I just wish more people could see the effect this money has on a poor community.”

Two years ago, the Co-operative sourced wines from vineyards in the Du Toitskloof co-operative at the foot of the Du Toitskloof mountains in the Western Cape Province.

It supports over 780 people including 350 children. All employees have their own homes and 85% have running water and electricity.

In the first year, premiums on wine sold in Co-operative stores raised £64,000 which went towards three new crechesfor under fives.

The project will now focus on adult education such as HIV/AIDS awareness, alcoholism and young motherhood.

Mr Main, who has visited the Fairtrade winery in the Breede River Valley before, is jetting off again on Christmas day and travelling to the winery in the new year.

He added: “I’ve been before but this time I’m taking lots of toothbrushes with me!

“I was told that the one thing they need is toothbrushes.

“When the babies are teething, the mothers rub their gums with honey.

“It’s very, very moving when you see the children. They are absolutely lovely.

“Last time they learned a little song for us.

“They have benefited from over £250,000 in the last two years from the premium we pay on every co-operative bottle of wine.”

BRUSHING UP: Paul Knapton of Upton Co-operative Pharmacy with Michael Main who is taking 200 toothbrushes to South African children this Christmas.