Rushcliffe School has been presented with a prestigious new award created by the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire to recognise young people who are making a huge contribution to voluntary service.
Students at Rushcliffe School notched up an amazing 2500 hours of voluntary service over the last year, with more than a third of the school’s 1480 pupils involved. Many of them gave up time for multiple projects, not only fundraising but also actively helping others.
The Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, Sir John Peace, the Queen’s official representative in the county, explained: “While travelling around the county last year I became aware of the amazing voluntary work being done by young people and yet they didn’t seem to be getting recognition for it. That’s why I wanted to create this award. I had to get special permission from Buckingham Palace to introduce it and as far as I know no other county has anything like it.”
Students at Rushcliffe are involved in a wide range of projects designed to support the local community, national charities and children abroad. These include:
- Going into a local care home to spend time talking to and listening to people with dementia. Pupils undertake training before embarking on this work.
- Cooking Christmas dinner for the residents of a local care home each year.
- Helped a local church to construct a sensory garden for its nursery group. Pupils went every Saturday for five months to dig out soil, lay concrete and bricks for new flower beds and do planting.
- Organising an annual fundraising festival – Esperanza –to support children at The School of Hope in Guatemala. This large scale event involves music and dance performances as well as stalls and is attended by the whole school and wider community.
- Travelling to Ecuador to carry out volunteer work including digging drainage for a community centre and laying a floor for a school.
- Supporting a disabled centre, nursery and school in Malawi. Students spent a week there planning and delivering lessons. Following the visit, they fundraised to send a container to Malawi with much needed books, stationery, clothes, computers and PE kit.
- Planning and delivering a series of sports festivals to feeder primary schools.
In addition, every year group chooses a charity to support and organises fundraising activities throughout the year. They have supported charities such as the Teenage Cancer Trust (two pupils have suffered from cancer), Spiral (a bereavement counselling charity which supported a pupil), Make A Wish, Help for Heroes, and Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Vice Lord Lieutenant, Colonel Timothy Richmond, and Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Arthur Sandford, visited the school to present the accolade at a special ceremony.
Timothy Richmond said “The extent of what these pupils are doing is inspiring. It’s been lovely meeting them and seeing how enthusiastic they are about the different voluntary projects they’re involved in. They’re making a huge contribution and it’s a culture that goes right through the school. They’re not only setting an example for their own generation but also for the older generation.”
The school was chosen for the award after Arthur Sandford interviewed a group of students about its voluntary projects.
“It was clear to me that voluntary service is embodied in all that the school does,” he said. “I was really impressed and immediately wrote to the Lord Lieutenant recommending them for the award.”
Year 13 student, Charlie Strang, has done volunteer work in Malawi, through the dementia befrienders scheme, as a swimming teacher in St Ann’s and through working in a charity shop. She said: “I am very proud of the fact that Rushcliffe has been recognised for the work it has done in promoting volunteer and charity work. Throughout my years here I have been given many opportunities to work in the local community and wider community to benefit others. The opportunities have broadened my horizons whilst also helping others”
Head of Rushcliffe, Steve Lewis, said: “Helping others and supporting both our local and global community is one of the key values of our school. Our students willingly give up many hours of their time to help those in need. They have a real passion for the voluntary work they do. They actively direct and lead it. I am very proud of them indeed.”