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The not for profit volunteer run community radio station covering central-southern Dorset

Charities rally in support of Dorset school’s aid mission for Ukraine

Pupils at Bryanston School have raised a staggering £55,100 for two charities and for a special humanitarian mission for Ukraine that has also benefitted from the direct involvement of the wider Blandford community.

The annual Charities Weekend was organised by the school’s Head Girl, Esme Thomas, and Head Boy, Spencer Davies, in support of their chosen charities – Willdoes, a Dorset mental health charity, and the ‘Girls will be Girls’ programme of United World Schools. In view of the growing humanitarian crisis in the country, they also organised a special fundraising auction for the people of Ukraine. Local and national charities have been working in partnership with Bryanston since the event to ensure the money raised for Ukraine is put to the best possible use at the earliest opportunity.

The fundraising effort has paid for a huge quantity of humanitarian aid. Over 22 tons of medical kit, a huge quantity of tinned food, well over a hundred sleeping bags and blankets, 40,000 nappies and other much-needed supplies as well as a bulk supply of food for refugee welcome centres in Moldova and Slovakia are now heading to Eastern Europe. Personal messages from Bryanston pupils have also been included in nearly 400 special fun packs for Ukrainian children. Although one lorry was loaded with specialist medical supplies off-site, pupils at the school were able to give the second lorry loaded with humanitarian aid an enthusiastic send-off as both vehicles started their 1,500-mile journey.

“Raising so much money at such short notice for the people of Ukraine was a very challenging but also a very fulfilling project,” says 18-year-old Esme. “We’re over the moon that our efforts will do so much to help improve the lives of so many people. I’m also really pleased we’ve been able to support a programme that is helping young girls from Nepal, Myanmar and Cambodia into education, as well as a more local charity that is so close to our hearts.”

“We’re indebted to the entire Bryanston community for everyone’s generosity and enthusiasm over the Charities Weekend,” adds 18-year-old Spencer. “And pupils from all year groups have done a sterling job in helping to pack and sort so many pallets of baby materials, sleeping bags, personal hygiene products and fun packs for children that are now on their way to Ukraine. It really has been a case of everyone wanting to do something to help!”

Dr Hannah Fearnley, a Teacher of Classics and Head of Charities at Bryanston, says she is in awe of the determination and infectious commitment of Esme and Spencer and the enthusiasm of all pupils at the school in helping to deliver such a remarkable outcome from the Charities Weekend.

“This is the highest ever total raised at this annual event which is a credit to everyone involved. The money raised will provide a real boost for Esme’s and Spencer’s chosen charities as well as those people in Ukraine who are enduring such terrible hardship,” she says. “With the heartfelt support, generosity and resolve of so many people, the Ukraine Aid mission is a truly collective initiative that will make a very real difference to children and families who have lost everything in this awful conflict.”

The Bryanston team has been working with the UK-based ‘Hope and Aid Direct’ charity to determine the most appropriate supplies for the people of Ukraine. This partnership enabled the school to act as a local hub for collections from the Blandford Cares charity and maximised the volume of aid to be sent to distribution hubs in the East European country. It also simplified the transportation arrangements and provided the opportunity to secure advantageous wholesale deals to ensure that every penny raised for Ukraine over the Charities Weekend was used to full effect and put towards critical humanitarian supplies. More than 12 pallets of aid were loaded onto the two lorries that are expected to arrive at the Ukrainian border on the 4th April.

The Charities Weekend at Bryanston was open to parents and staff at the school and featured sponsored personal challenges, a concert by bands and musicians from the school, a lunch for friends and family, a fashion show, a dog show and a special dinner for pupils in their final year at the school. The Silent Auction for Ukraine benefitted from the advice and support provided by Jumblebee. The prizes donated by parents, staff and local companies including everything from a pizza evening with a pupil’s favourite teacher and golf course tickets, to a stay in a holiday cottage and overseas trips.

As well as the humanitarian mission to Ukraine, the Charities Weekend fundraising has supported Willdoes and United World Schools. Dedicated to the memory of William Paddy, a sporty and charismatic child who grew up near Swanage and who was known to a number of pupils at Bryanston, Willdoes promotes mental and physical health, social inclusion and wellbeing for young people across Dorset and the surrounding area.

United World Schools is an international education charity that builds schools, empowers communities and transforms the lives of children in deprived and remote areas of Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal. This is the second time the charity has benefitted from funds raised from Bryanston’s Charities Weekend.
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