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Thursday, 11 June 2015
A special awards evening at Bolton School has heaped praise on Year 12 students for their commitment to volunteering in the local community. Coordinator of their activities Mrs Sophie Entwistle told parents and teachers how for many students volunteering had become part of their weekly routine and she thanked them for their exceptional commitment and selfless dedication. Over 85% of the girls and boys had done at least 20 hours of work over the past year but many had done much more than this. They were awarded bronze (20+ hours of work), silver (50+ hours) and gold (100+ hours) certificates. In total, they had completed well over 10,000 hours of work helping out in the local region. The students had undertaken so many hours this year that vInspired, the leading national charity for volunteering, which records hours commited by young people, commended the School for being the highest achieving establishment in the country and it was awarded £1,000 to further develop local projects. The School often shares its best practice with other schools who are looking to develop similar schemes.
Recapping the school year, Mrs Entwistle gave a quick overview of all the praiseworthy projects that students had been involved with – from working at hospices to helping younger pupils with reading to assisting in care homes to working in charity shops to developing the skills of new English speakers. Short videos were shown featuring the success of the newly introduced Tea at the Riley event, initiated by Sixth Former Ananya Baksi, where older local people have enjoyed 7 tea and cake afternoons whilst talking to Sixth Form students; and also highlighting the great work undertaken during a Maths Saturday School by Mr Howard and his Sixth Form assistants in encouraging over 40 bright local Year 6 children to reach Level 6 in their SATs. The two projects, as with all volunteering activities, illustrated how the students’ efforts can make a huge difference to the lives of others whilst allowing them to enjoy unique opportunities for development of their organisational, team-working, empathetic and leadership skills.
Mrs Entwistle also lauded younger pupils who were now becoming involved with volunteering at an earlier age, many of them through the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. The School was recently told by Mr Paul Griffiths, Regional Manager of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, that it was the largest independent school provider of pupils achieving the Duke of Edinburgh Award in the North-West of England.
Several students gave short presentations on the work they had undertaken and the profound effect that volunteering had had on their life. Nick Johnson said: “It has been a fantastic experience. I have developed in so many ways, particularly my organisational skills! I would like to thank School for helping me grow into a person that I otherwise would not have.”
Guest of honour for the evening was Deputy Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary and Old Girl Jeanette McCormick. Jeanette hails from a family that has seen several generations pass through the School and is a regular contributor to Careers forums at the School. She offered her congratulations and praise to the Year 12 students for all their hard work over the course of the academic year and encouraged them to continue volunteering throughout their lives, saying it was something you can do from aged 14 to 114. She reminded the students of the huge benefits that flow in both directions when people help out – changing people’s lives for the better. She said that the reason volunteers don’t get paid is not because their work is worthless but because it is priceless! She spoke about her own family’s volunteering efforts and she also said that of the 3,000 members of staff she oversees in the police force, 15-20% of them are volunteers. She closed the evening with an apposite maxim: “Those who can, do; those who can do more, volunteer.”
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