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Grandmother Alison Bristo, of Seymour Road, Northfleet, was able to cope with months of pain by thinking about her beloved orangutans

03 March 2014
by Alex Matthews

Alison Bristo, 53, of Seymour Road, Northfleet, suffers from an illness that stops her small intestine from working.

The illness means she cannot eat and must be fed fluids by a machine.

Miss Bristo, who has a passion for orangutans and conservation, spent 11 months in hospital and said the thought of visiting a sanctuary in Borneo gave her hope when she was at her lowest point.

Alison Bristo with Preston the Orangutan and grandson Kai Sillence.

Alison Bristo with Preston the Orangutan and grandson Kai Sillence.

The former nursery manager at St Joseph’s Convent Preparatory School in Gravesend, wants to volunteer at the Sepilok Orangutan Centre where she will spend eight weeks working with the creatures.

She has raised £800 so far but needs to get another £3,000 by July 2015.

The mother-of-two said:“When I was ill in hospital for so long I lost all hope and the one thing that kept me going was watching DVDs of orangutans all the time.

“One of the ladies from the orangutan charity asked me if I had thought about being a volunteer and she mentioned this place and that I could visit there for eight weeks.

“I lost everything, my son was going into the Army and he had to hold that, my marriage broke up, I lost my job, everything, and it was the thought of my friends and family saying ‘come on fight it and then you can go to Borneo’ that kept me going.”

Miss Bristo said that she understood money was tight for many but wanted people to know orangutans were in dire need of help.

She said:“If people don’t do something about it, orangutans will be extinct in the next 10 years or less.

“They are on the critically endangered list.

“You only actually get orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra.”

To donate to Miss Bristo’s trip, log on to – her volunteer ID is 9654.

Miss Bristo is organising a quiz night on March 15 at St Barnabas’ Church Hall, Upper Avenue, Istead Rise. Teams must have a maximum of eight people and people should bring their own drinks and snacks.

It starts at 7.30pm and last two hours.

Tickets cost £5 each.

For information call 07966234357.

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