Compassionate school pupils take the initiative when it comes to fundraising

This story was published 26 November 2021

A nine-year-old boy has donated hundreds of pounds to his primary school after writing and selling his own books.

Wistow Primary School headteacher and two students

Wistow Parochial CE Primary School, near Selby, has inspired and encouraged many of its pupils to champion community causes and take up fundraising projects during their time at the school.

One of them is Mitchell Wray, from Wistow. Recently, he made the top ten in his age category on a Blue Peter poetry competition themed around nature, earning him a Blue Peter badge. His poem, I am Nature, was themed on the climate emergency and reached the competition’s top 30 entries from more than 5,000 submissions.

Before entering the competition, Mitchell wrote two detective mysteries, Songbird Saga and Songbird Saga: Lost. Through a combination of sales of his books and other fundraising, Mitchell Wray was able to make £1,000 for his primary school.

Headteacher Carla Cox said the school placed a strong emphasis on teaching pupils to care for others and to see where they can help and support people. Many of its pupils have independently taken up fundraising; from holding toy sales to cutting their hair to donate to the Little Princess Trust, which provides free wigs to children and young people who have lost their own hair due to cancer or other illness.

Carla Cox said: “We are incredibly proud of Mitchell’s achievements - as we are with all our pupils - who continue to shine daily and independently want to do things to help the school and show the local community they care.

“We have introduced the concept of courageous advocacy to our school, which is the concept of leaving a positive legacy to future generations and serving the common good. The children here have really taken that to heart by committing to fundraising projects and small acts of kindness here and in the local community.”

Earlier in the year, inspired by a topic at school about compassion and kindness, children at Wistow Parochial CE Primary School began sharing ideas about how they could help their local community.

The school council, with pupils from all year groups, began looking at how the pandemic had affected local care homes and the difficulties carers and residents had faced with little contact from the outside world and no visits from their loved ones.

As a result, they came up with the idea to launch Operation Biscuit; distributing biscuits and sweet treats for care home residents and workers across Selby.

The youngsters raised funds through a non-uniform day to purchase the treats, visiting a local supermarket and then distributing the wellbeing hampers themselves. The deliveries also included handwritten notes and letters from children at the school.

Pupil Adam Kehoe, who was involved in Operation Biscuit said: “We thought we would raise money so we could buy biscuits for care homes. During lockdown we delivered them so people could have a nicer lockdown, without feeling lonely.”

Carla Cox said: “When discussing how difficult it must have been working as a carer or living in a care home during the pandemic with little contact with the outside world, the children showed a lot of admiration and compassion for the profession and residents. They wanted to do something to say thank you to the staff and make residents and carers smile.

“The response we had back from the local care homes who received the treats were fantastic. We received a lot of cards and messages of thanks and appreciation from the carers and residents.”

Cllr Patrick Mulligan said: “I’d like to congratulate Mitchell and all the other children at Wistow primary school. Their talents and empathic actions are making a real difference to the community around them and we know those efforts have been appreciated.”