Each spring at St Helen’s the school charity is chosen by a whole school vote and fundraising takes place throughout the subsequent year. With the assistance of a group of Sixth Form charity reps, students are encouraged to take the initiative with fundraising.
In 2018 we raised £19,000 for Mercy Ships, who provide safe surgery for free onboard their ‘floating hospital’: the Africa Mercy. Relying on donations and the dedication of volunteer staff, Mercy Ships transforms thousands of lives in every country it visits and we are both proud and delighted to have contributed to their important work.
Fundraising for Mercy Ships included a wonderful variety of initiatives: the Junior Easter Egg hunt; members of staff running the London Marathon and doing a sponsored cycle ride to Paris; Lower Sixth’s sponsored Abingdon parkrun; the Year 10 Charity Dinner; a Fireworks Ball organised by the Parents’ Associations of both St Helen’s and Abingdon School; and of course St Kate’s Day, a celebration of the School’s traditions and community but also an opportunity for the whole school to fundraise as one.
For 2019–20 the charity has been Helen and Douglas House and, despite the lockdown period, a total of £11,726 has been raised both for them and for other charities.
Each summer a group of Lower Sixth students spend time volunteering in Kenya with the Nasio Trust or in Eswatini with Sense Africa, alternating between the two. Tasks which the students undertake range from building schools from the ground up, building playgrounds, repairing old people’s homes and helping in healthcare centres and larger hospitals. A particularly powerful experience for the 2019 group was treating and cleaning the feet of children who had been infected with jiggers (a parasite which can get into people’s hands and feet and when serious can be crippling).
“For those of us interested in medical degrees, the treatment was valuable work experience, but more importantly all of us were moved by the bravery of these people who had been suffering so much. It was incredible to play such a central role in the campaign; we all took so much from the experience, and hopefully helped those that we treated.”
“We were made to feel so incredibly welcome by the Kenyan Nasio team. The staff at the guest house were wonderful, the food was delicious and we threw ourselves into the positive outlook the team taught us, for example singing the ‘happy song’ every evening before bed. We are grateful to the Nasio Trust for giving us such a special opportunity.”