I ASSUMED that VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) was something confined to young people filling in a year between school and university.

However, talking to VSO about Lesley Reader, who was last week named the winner of our Reluctant Tourist Award, I was informed that the organisation no longer recruits school-leavers (if the Euro Disney-ing Aberdeen Girl Guides represent the hardy standards of the nation's youth, I am not surprised).

VSO has more than 1,500 volunteers working in 50 developing countries in the Caribbean, Pacific, Asia and Africa - and in five countries in Eastern Europe under a separate initiative called the East European Partnership.

The organisation says it considers applicants from almost any skilled profession: 'Midwives, doctors, physiotherapists, builders, business people and trained teachers of English and science are particularly in demand.' The age range is 20 to 70, with most volunteers in their late twenties, but there also many in their forties and fifties.

Anyone interested should contact the Inquiries Unit, VSO, 317 Putney Bridge Road, London SW15 2PN (081-780 2266/081-780 1331).

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