Staff, pupils and former students of Bridlington School have united to reach their £24,000 target to build three extra classrooms in one of Africa’s poorest countries.
In recent years, it has formed a close link with Hope Primary School in Sierra Leone, and Mark Parker-Randall, who has led the partnership, was invited to the town of Kenema in 2015 to open the school.
On Friday, a non-uniform day in Bridlington brought in the final chunk of money needed to cover the cost of the extension which will be ready later this year.
Headteacher Kate Parker-Randall said: “At Easter 2017 I launched our Young Bridlingtonian Pledge with the then mayor and Old Bridlingtonian, Cllr Liam Dealtry.
“The pledge set out qualities that are key for a Bridlingtonian and linked the Young and Old Bridlingtonians of our school. At this same time we launched Phase 2 of our Hope School Fundraising Campaign to build three further classrooms to complete the primary school we built and opened in October 2015 at the height of the Ebola crisis.
“We had a target of £23,500 to excavate, then lay foundations and build the three much-needed additional classrooms. Many fundraising activities have taken place since then over the last 22 months and following our latest Bridlington School fundraiser on Friday, I am delighted to report that we have smashed our target raising a total of just over £24,000.
“I have been formally invited by Christian Martyn Kamara, national general secretary and CEO of the YMCA Sierra Leone to travel out to Hope School this Easter in order to officially open the new three classroom build. This is a great honour and I feel both humbled and privileged to do so.”
Mr Parker-Randall said “I am immensely proud of what we have achieved together. It is impossible to measure just how much of an impact on so many people’s lives our partnership has made, both for our Bridlington School students and for the students of Hope School Kenema.
“The new extension has brought our two communities even closer together. I am eternally grateful to all those who have made this possible.”
Deputy head Sam Clare added: “Having only been at Bridlington School for 18 months, I am blown away at the generosity and community spirit that the students show. They have banded together to scrimp, save and raise the money for Hope School and finish this outstanding project they started some five years ago.
“They should be rightly proud of the difference they have made, and we look forward to seeing the results of the finished project being outworked throughout the curriculum in both schools.”
Hope School was built following a visit to Kenema by Mr Parker-Randall after his first visit to Sierra Leone with the British Council Connecting Classrooms in October 2013.
He saw children being taught in cleared-out workshop areas with next-to-no equipment.
“It was at that very moment that I had it in my heart to partner with the YMCA and the people of Kenema to build a school called Hope,” he said.
Mr Parker-Randall travelled to Kenema during the countries Ebola crisis in October 2015 to officially open Hope School. He was the first white Westerner to visit the community at that very difficult and heart breaking time and was honoured by being made an African Chief whilst there.
He was given the name ‘Munda’ meaning ‘our own’ as officials, the children and their families said he was now part of their community and family.