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Changing lives in the Amazon

480. Dan Eley

A young man from Surrey founded The Dan Eley Foundation and raised £180,000 to help disadvantaged children living in Colombia to achieve a more fulfilling and productive adult life.

Dan Eley’s inspiration to set up the Foundation came after a diving accident in the Colombian Amazon left him paralysed for life from the shoulders down in October 2010. As his travel insurance didn’t cover a flight home following the accident a friend of Dan’s back in the UK started a Facebook campaign to fly him home. 8,000 people from 40 countries raised £90k to transport Dan to the spinal injuries unit in Stoke Mandeville. Dan recalls that the people he met during this difficult time were inspired by his positive spirit, and this planted a seed in his mind that through adversity there could be an opportunity to inspire others. The Dan Eley Foundation was born from this realisation.

The Dan Eley Foundation delivers apprenticeship-style training schemes for children living in poverty in Colombia and Latin America, and more recently supports disadvantaged youngsters locally in Dan’s hometown Godalming. The Foundation primarily works in partnership with a local charity based in the Colombian city of Cali, called Foundation Education for All (FEDUT), to deliver six-month training programs in IT and accountancy. The program is designed to give impoverished children the necessary skills to start working as assistant accountants in local companies. Since its first program in 2012, the Dan Eley Foundation and FEDUT have trained 190 young people as assistant accountants, half of whom are currently in salaried employment in a related field.

Dan also wanted to give back to his local community and so the Foundation has been working with Skillway, a Godalming based skills training charity, to provide bursaries for students to undergo two year ‘master class’ courses in their chosen trade. Last March, the Foundation held its first spring benefit concert in conjunction with Godalming College, which raised £5,000 to help music students from lower income families to cover the costs of their instruments and classes.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Dan’s determination to overcome his own life-changing experience and make a difference in the lives of children from disadvantaged backgrounds is truly inspiring. With The Dan Eley Foundation, he has given hundreds of children in Colombia an opportunity to learn a trade and achieve employment which many of them wouldn’t otherwise have had. I am delighted to be able to recognise Dan’s service by naming him the UK’s 480th Point of Light.”

Dan said:

“I’m absolutely thrilled to receive the Point of Light award. I dedicate this award to my trustees and all the other people who have supported me in helping me making this dream come true. I would like to express my immense gratitude to the Prime Minister and cabinet office for choosing me for the UK’s 480th Point of Light award.”

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP said:

“I’ve had the privilege to meet Dan on numerous occasions and he is nothing short of a total inspiration. He has overcome his injuries by sheer force of his positive personality, through which he now helps many others facing equally life changing challenges. He once said to me that he had found his vocation in life and I am delighted that the Prime Minister is recognising the amazing contribution Dan makes both here in South West Surrey and overseas in Colombia.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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