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Monday, 14 July 2014

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Cumbrian pupils raise £20,000 for air ambulance

Being a small school doesn’t mean you can’t make a big contribution to charity.

Jack Edgar photo
Jack Edgar with bags of clothes

That’s the message from pupils at Fir Ends Primary in Smithfield.

Despite only having 119 pupils from 76 families, they have made the biggest single contribution of any school to a clothes collection for the Great North Air Ambulance, raising more than £20,000 over the last five years.

The youngsters have also raised more than £1,000 in the last 12 months for the Fire Fighters Charity.

Headteacher Sue Hatt said: “I think it’s because we have given the children control over it.”

For the air ambulance, the children, along with their families and the wider community, collect bags of clothes. These are transported to Poland where they are sold wholesale.

The proceeds of the sale are then split between the air ambulance, school and local community, with the bulk going to the charity.

They have been carrying out the collection twice annually since 2004.

They started supporting the air ambulance in this way in 2006. Since then they have raised £20,507.

Jim Entwistle, assistant director for the organisation, said: “It’s a phenomenal achievement. This is the smallest school we work with across the north-east, north Yorkshire and Cumbria yet it produces the largest amount of clothing.

“It makes a real difference to our work in providing the helicopter.”

Keeping the air ambulance in the skies costs around £1.2m per year.

When it came to helping the Fire Fighters Charity the children organised a day of ‘Flaming Fun’.

It featured a bouncy castle, climbing wall, bake sale and a soak the teacher competition.

They raised £1,220.10.

The pupils chose this charity because many of them have family connections to the fire service.

John Moody, the service fundraising co-ordinator, said: “For one school to raise this much money is fantastic.”

Most of the organising work for both efforts was done by members of the school’s Rotakids group, which is a tie up between the pupils and the Rotary Club of Brampton and Longtown.

Peter Sedgewick, a club member, said: “We give the children some support but it’s the kids doing it themselves.”

The money was handed over to the causes at an assembly.

Welephant, the fire services mascot, collected one cheque. A bear mascot representing the air ambulance service collected theirs.

Rob Colgrave, the charity’s public liaison officer, has challenged the children to think of a name for it.

He also gave a demonstration of equipment used on the air ambulance.

“We have done really well to raise such a lot of money,” said Rachael McCamish, 10, a year six pupil from Kirklinton.

Charlie Barnes, 11, of Scotby, who is also in year six, added: “We help charities and just saving one life per day is more than not saving one.”

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