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Tuesday, 14 June 2016
Year 12 students in the Girls’ and Boys’ Divisions of Bolton School have, over the course of the past year, contributed a staggering 11,102 hours, the equivalent of 6 and a half years’ full-time work, towards helping others. One hundred and seventy-seven pupils achieved a bronze award meaning they had contributed at least 20 hours of their time towards volunteering work, 64 students picked up silver awards for giving over 50 hours of their time and 28 achieved gold awards for offering over 100 hours.
Their efforts were rewarded at a special awards evening at the School with guests which included the Mayor of Bolton Lynda Byrne and her consort John Byrne; Lady Joy Smith, the High Sheriff of Manchester; David Camm, the Under Sheriff of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside; and Fiona Gibson, the North-West’s Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust.
Mrs Sophie Entwistle, who coordinates the students’ volunteering, commended the students in her opening address saying that in the six years that she had been doing the job, this was the most enthusiastic, proactive and happy group she had worked with and this year more certificates of achievement were being handed out than ever before. As an example of their commitment, she cited the Christmas Hamper challenge for Urban Outreach, where 40 students, not the usual 15 or so, grasped the challenge of procuring foodstuffs for 1200 hampers in just 3 weeks. Mrs Entwistle commented how pleased she was that the government is going to make it incumbent on all schools to promote National Citizenship Service (NCS), something that Bolton School has supported since the scheme's inception in 2011 and has provided more and more pupils for each summer. She also praised the large number of activities that the School undertakes which offer opportunities for students to help out with, including the SHINE: Serious Fun on Saturday mornings programme, the Football Festival and the Physics Olympics to name just a few. She was delighted that the recent ISI Inspection had noted this work and had praised the School for its “outstanding” links with the local community. She also reflected how privileged the students had been to meet Prince Edward earlier in the academic year when he learnt first-hand from them about the School’s Duke of Edinburgh and volunteering work.
Nine students then eloquently addressed the audience of parents, teachers and peers with their individual volunteering stories. They demonstrated the depth and range of charitable work that the Sixth Formers had undertaken: developing friendships and lending an ear at Bolton Hospice, transforming lives of people with learning disabilities at Bury Gateway, helping people with dementia at Beechville Care Home, developing aspirational young minds on Bolton School’s SHINE programme, cultivating reading skills at Smithills School, taking part in the NCS programme and supporting children with autism at Kids2gether, assisting at the 19th Bolton Scout Group, working with young people at Bolton Lads and Girls Club or helping out on week long pilgrimages to Lourdes with HCPT Manchester 157 Group.
Through their varied experiences they had developed a myriad of skills including increased self-confidence, determination, better communication skills, team-working skills, empathy, patience and composure, adaptability, caring skills, social skills and fundraising abilities, all whilst creating lifelong memories.
The guest speaker for the evening was parent Fiona Gibson, who is an MD at Accenture and the Prince’s Ambassador for the North-West. She had been given this position by the Prince after all the work that she and her company have done in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility. She told the students to never lose their curiosity, to always ask questions and if you “leap the net will appear”. By this she meant that it is important to throw yourself into the task of helping others – it helps your sanity, your communication skills, it transforms lives, broadens horizons, builds confidence and it is the smart thing to do as we look to improve our communities. She spoke about Accenture’s commitment to helping young people and their aim to help 3 million 16-24 year olds by 2020. Their Onside campaign has already helped 420 youngsters and 85% of these have gained apprenticeships or employment. The consulting and accounting skills of Accenture when offered gratis help local charities and all employees are given three days off in order that they can do good for their local communities.
The awards were presented by the High Sheriff of Manchester, Lady Joy Smith.
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