Handprints from Horsforth and thousands of pounds have been taken to South Africa by a group who have travelled out to help Aids orphans.

Seventeen people from Horsforth and one from Otley have gone to the Valley of a Thousand Hills, near Durban, to help the charity Sethani which supports a community decimated by the AIDS epidemic.

It is the third time in four years that a Horsforth group has visited to work with the charity whose focus is to support children who have been orphaned.

The group of volunteers, who set off at the weekend, took £11,000 to give to the charity. They also took a parachute with messages from children at Horsforth School and local churches as well as handprints from children at Ducklings nursery.

Team leader Duncan Stowe said the children of the valley would sign and return another parachute to be used for play by Ducklings, which has a twinning relationship with the Sethani creche.

Horsforth school has raised £7,500 towards the funds being taken our for the charity.

"The children have done a number of things, from swimming galas to a 24-hour rice only fast to experience for a day what others experience every day of their lives," Duncan said.

The churches and Duckling nursery have also raised funds with a variety of events.

"We are able to take £11,000 out there - which is terrific and will go a long way in the rural community," he said.

The volunteers, who include schoolchildren and adults, have gone out to an area which has a huge Aids problem.

"It has been reckoned that 60 per cent of adults have HIV in that community," Duncan said.

But he believes there could be a turn in the tide, with attitudes changing and successes in treatment.

"We are now seeing drugs working. People are talking about Aids - they were not willing to talk about it even four years ago," he explained.

The Sethani project runs a community centre where its work include supporting orphans with food parcels and clothing for school. It also has an outreach programme, a creche and a library area.

During their two and a half week visit volunteers will help in the creche as well as running activities for older children when they come out of school.

The group - which includes a woodwork teacher and three specialists in the building trade -will also be involved in building work.