Ambassador’s plea to Mail readers


A PROJECT to rebuild a school on Robinson Crusoe Island is appealing to Mail readers to get behind its creation.

The school, off the coast of Chile, was destroyed after an earthquake, and subsequent tsunami, hit the region in 2010.

The island has huge significance locally as it was home to stranded Largo mariner Alexander Selkirk in the 18th century – with his tale thought to be the inspiration behind Daniel Defoe’s classic story.

Largo is now twinned with the island.

And now those behind the project, which is being spearheaded by the British ambassador in Chile, are hoping that local people, or Crusoe devotees, can support it by offering up ideas and donations.

Ambassador Jon Benjamin told the Mail: “I agreed to a suggestion by the Mayor of Isla Robinson Crusoe that I become patron of the project to rebuild the school.

“Apart from the Alexander Selkirk and Largo connection, I was hugely attracted to the project because it has good people behind it, it has a defined, achievable and affordable plan, and, most of all, because can make a huge real difference to real people currently in great difficulty – particularly to a group of children eager to resume their interrupted education.”

Around $80,000 has already been raised for the project so far, with donors such as Michael Palin, Jonathan Franzen and Loyd Grossman, and of course the town of Largo itself, contributing several thousand pounds to the cause.

Mr Benjamin added: “I regard my own involvement very much as a personal as well as professional commitment to making a real difference in the lives of a remote and often forgotten community with a real historical link to Scotland and to the Fife area in particular.”

A foundation has been set up to help the project and every penny raised will go towards the build, with administration costs covered by the embassy.

•Visit www.fundación