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Monday, 16 June 2014
The annual Sixth Form Volunteering Celebration Evening recognises the combined volunteering efforts of the Lower Sixth. This year, students’ contributions to the local community have been truly inspiring.
Mrs Sophie Entwistle, the Foundation Head of Community Action, said, “It has been an incredible year, and these Year 12 students have clocked up a record-breaking 11,798 hours of voluntary work – the equivalent of a full-time person working for 7 years. They are a true credit to the School, to themselves and to their families. I am hugely proud of them.”
Phil Howard of the Boys’ Division also gave a speech, explaining how SPACE afternoon for boys and CEP lessons for girls allow students to dedicate their time to volunteering. This is thanks to the Heads, who enabled these initiatives to become part of the curriculum.
Kayleigh Wainwright of vInspired also attended the Celebration Evening and congratulated the Sixth Formers on their amazing contribution. Bolton School pupils have achieved 172 awards from vInspired, with each one signifying 50 or 100 hours of community service. With their amazing total number of volunteering hours, Ms Wainwright could confirm that this year Bolton School has registered the most hours of any school in the country!
The audience was then shown a short film about the Bolton School pupils’ voluntary work. The film looked at some of the different kinds of community service that students have engaged with over the course of the academic year. Interviews with students and members of the various organisations they have assisted showed the impact of their efforts, both on the local community, and on the students themselves.
Five boys and five girls from the Lower Sixth then spoke about how much they had enjoyed their experience, and how much they had learned and developed. The students chosen had worked at a range of charities, hospices, hospitals, schools, and various other projects. Locally these include Disability SnowSport UK, Smithills School, Scouts groups, Beechville Care Home, Bolton Hospice, the SHINE Programme, Galloway Society for the Blind, and many more. Some students had worked further afield as well: Ananya Baksi talked briefly about her work with orphaned children in Calcutta.
Paul Greenhalgh’s words were echoed by many of the Sixth Formers on the evening: “To know that I have changed someone’s life for the better gives me immense satisfaction.”
Certificates were then handed out by the evening’s Guest Speaker, Old Girl Nicola Grinstead, who left the school in 1996. She is now the Deputy Chair of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), the Deputy Director of Operations at Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust, and the Director of Operational Performance at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
Bronze certificates were awarded for 20-49 hours of community service, Silver certificates for 50-99 hours, and Gold certificates for over 100 hours. Several students had done far more than this, however, with some individuals clocking as much as 171, 182, and 287 hours of voluntary work. The student with the most hours in the school was Saira Hussain, who had completed a staggering 355 hours!
Finally, Nicola Grinstead offered the keynote address for the evening. She told the assembled students that she felt privileged to join them in the Arts Centre for the Celebration Evening, which marks such wonderful achievements. She reflected that her own volunteering journey started at Bolton School; she remembered organising charity auctions with her friends by getting famous people to donate items and then selling them on to parents, with the money raised going to Bolton Hospice.
“Volunteering makes you happier, healthier, it boosts your morale and self-esteem. It offers balance and perspective; you are more grounded and can make better decisions,” Nicola told the students. Her experience of having motivated volunteers in her role at WAGGGS has also helped her in her current career at Imperial.
She became a member of the Board of WAGGGS aged 26. She decided to get more involved after going on a GOLD Project to Kenya, working with HIV and Aids patients. These projects work in partnership with other Guide Associations around the world and link with development. She realised at that point that the show was being run by men, and the voices of girls and young women were not being heard by those who made the decisions.
She spoke to the girls about her role as the Deputy Chair of the WAGGGS. One in three girls will, at some point, be a Guide, and 145 countries now have Guides, so there is a great deal of responsibility – but also a great opportunity to make a difference. She mentioned that the WAGGGS has three main aims: they develop leadership in girls; work with Dove to challenge girls’ thinking about their body image, encouraging them to be more positive and not let body image restrict them; and work with the UN to campaign against violence against girls.
“Volunteering offers, at a conservative estimate, £18bn to the economy. Think about how much worse Bolton would be without your help!” she told the students. “In volunteering you need to be motivated and passionate. You have to take something away from it – derive your own sense of fulfilment. Never underestimate your contribution to the voluntary sector, and don’t ever be afraid to challenge things.”
She also reminded the students of something Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
She finally offered the students her congratulations, and wished them luck with everything that comes their way in the future.
Watch the short film about Bolton School students’ community service:
Bolton School Volunteering - Making a Difference for Good
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