Academy’s box challenge

Pupils at Samuel Whitbread Academy with Beverley Blackham of the Rotary Club and Tony Edwards.
Pupils at Samuel Whitbread Academy with Beverley Blackham of the Rotary Club and Tony Edwards.

Pupils from Samuel Whitbread Academy have been thinking inside the box about how to help others – with some impressive results.

Students from the upper school in Clifton have been filling boxes supplied by the Rotary Club with everyday items to help people in eastern Europe.

In total, the 14 to 18-year-olds managed to fill an incredible 380 boxes which were then officially handed over to Beverley Blackham of Ampthill and District Rotary Club.

Tony Edwards, who co-ordinated the scheme at the school, said: “Our students and staff have always been very active within the community so when we were approached by someone on behalf of the Rotary Club we were very excited at the opportunity to do something as a whole school.

“Rotary pay for the boxes in advance so I think they were a little apprehensive when we initially asked for 400 of them. However, we challenged each tutor group to fill six of them and that would make up the number.

“Then I started hearing about tutor groups which had filled 15; and then I heard of one led by science teacher Susie Hoad which had filled more than 130.”

That amazing number was in no small part down to two year 12 pupils, Molly Searle and Maggie Peycheva. Molly had previously been involved in a similar scheme. And her desire to help was boosted when she met someone who had been helped by one of the boxes when he was a child – and still had the empty box in his 20s as it was so significant to him.

The boxes are grouped into four categories: for babies; under-10s; teenagers and household items.

Tony added: “While they are being delivered in time for Christmas it’s not necessarily presents, just things that will really make a difference to others who don’t have what we do. So, it could be stationery, clothing, some make-up, household cleaners or a teddy bear.

“They are every-day items that we take for granted but will really help the people receiving them.”

Nick Martin, principal, said: “Samuel Whitbread Academy has a long tradition of supporting charities and other organisations within the local community and further afield.

“We have five houses and each house supports a different charity which is decided upon by students and changes every year or so.

“We see this as a very important aspect of the education that our students receive here at the academy as it helps them to learn about a wide range of important issues whilst encouraging them to develop empathy and compassion for others.

“It is our aim for all students to leave our care as responsible young men and women who have achieved more than they ever thought possible and have the ambition and drive to make a positive difference in the world.”