Pupils lead the way to help blaze-hit Australian school
Local schools — including Mossley Primary — have been rallying round to support children in Australia, who have lost their school in the recent bushfires.
The national campaign is being co-ordinated by Sandbach School, with a local pupil leading the way.
After the Australian bush fires razed Clifton Creek Primary School in Victoria to the ground, eight-year-old Gabriella Martone from Sandbach decided she was going to help.
Education professional Gill Benning learned about Clifton Creek via relatives in Australia. Clifton Creek Primary School lost everything when flames engulfed the buildings and burnt everything in its path.
Local children were left with no school to return to after the summer holidays.
Ms Bening spread the word and Gabriella was “desperate” to help raise funds after mum Karen Martone told her the devastating news.
Gabriella said: “When mum told me about a school that had burned to the ground by lots of fire, I felt very sad. If it had happened to my school, I’d be very sad, so I told my mum I wanted to do a Clifton Creek Happy Day.”
The Happy Day last weekend at St John’s School, Sandbach Heath, organised by Mrs Martone, raised more than £1,500 from activities including a large raffle with prizes donated by local businesses, a tombola, craft room where people could design their own t-shirts, bags and badges, name the Unicorn Pug and penalty shoot-out.
The school also had its very own Clifton Creek Café for the day serving pizza, hotdogs, bacon sandwiches, cakes and popcorn.
At Mossley Primary School in Congleton, pupils dressed up for the day, there was a whole-school barbecue, didgeridoo entertainment, and all lessons were upside down.
Every child took in a cash donation and placed it on an enlarged map of Australia. The school has so far raised more than £1,000.
The original idea came from Ms Benning, education business consultant and a former teacher who said: “As someone who works with schools all over the UK, when my Australian relatives told me about the plight of Clifton Creek, I knew I had to act. It’s fantastic, primary schools all over the country have come forward with fundraising ideas now happening from Cheshire to the New Forest, Leeds, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria to name a few.”
She added: “What Gabriella came up with was amazing and if this is the shape of future generations, we are in very safe hands indeed!”
Mrs Martone said: “I was quite amazed at Gabriella’s response when Gill told me about her idea to help this rural Australian community.
“Gabriella went into action-girl mode and started designing posters and making lists of ideas within the hour!
“I think people thought it was me pushing things but to be honest I was happy sitting with my cup of tea when Gabriella started shoving me into action! She marched up to me and said, ‘Come on, mum! I want to do this now!’”
The head of Sandbach School, Sarah Burns, and director of finance and resources David Osborne, quickly galvanised the school into action and now are the leaders of the UK education response to the Clifton Creek disaster.
In addition, Huggon Associates (Gill Benning) and Sandbach School have more plans afoot to be launched in the near future.
Dr Burns said: “Gill has worked successfully with us for several years now and this is another step in that partnership. It’s going to be a huge, high profile initiative which will not only help other causes internationally but also give back to education in this country and provide ‘difficult to source’ help for schools. Watch this space!”
Speaking on behalf of Clifton Creek Primary School, Daryl Floyd from the Terry Floyd Foundation, said: “We are actively working with Clifton Creek on the ground to help this community.
“Gill Benning coming on board with support from schools all over the UK has been amazing and uplifting for the school and community.
“We can’t thank these schools and people enough, especially Sandbach Boys School, which is nationally co-ordinating the education response to Clifton Creek together with St John’s Primary in Sandbach and Mossley Primary School in Congleton.”
Gabriella added: “I hope people don’t just stop and go away now; I want them to carry on giving money to help Clifton Creek School.”
To donate, visit gfme.co/cliftoncreek