May 23 2013 Latest news:
Wordss: James Podesta, Photos: Steve Williams
Sunday, March 17, 2013
ON Friday photographer Steve and I zigzagged across Cambridgeshire to witness some of the fantastic fundraising that took place on behalf of Comic Relief.
During the day we visited seven primary schools, two nurseries, a care home and a warehouse where the staff were dressed as superheroes.
Each place adopted their own take on Red Nose Day and together, through their enthusiasm and creativity, they contributed several thousand pounds towards the record-breaking £75million which has been raised this year for Comic Relief.
Our road trip started at Alderman Jacobs School in Whittlesey, where we were greeted at reception by staff wearing onesies (all in one pyjama outfit).
Michelle Graves, one of the receptionists, said: “I’m a bit worried about how many of us own onesies.”
As well as the pyjama day, the pupils baked Comic Relief themed cakes, sold wristbands and red noses and took part in a sponsored run around the school field.
We left the school and made the short journey to Park Lane Primary School, Whittlesey, for the second leg of our road trip.
Here all the pupils and staff were decked in red and numerous activities were taking place, including a raffle in assembly and a sponsored silence.
Margaret Leverett, the head teacher, paid tribute to her pupils.
She said: “The children are just great citizens not just at school and are always ready to do things to support other people.
While we were at the school we popped next door to the nursery, where the children wore red and the staff had organised a red nose hunt in the garden. Third on our destination list was Emneth Nursery School.
Here, the children and staff wore pyjamas and held a teddy bear picnic.
Then all the children were summoned outside for a giant bear hunt, much to their obvious delight.
One member of staff commented that the day’s activities had made the children “extra-excited”.
From there we experienced a drastic change in scenery as we made our way to the Boleness Road industrial estate in Wisbech to find out what Plumbing Trade Supplies (PTS) had been up to on behalf of Comic Relief.
Upon arrival at the warehouse we were greeted by the somewhat surreal sight of superheroes working behind the counter.
A string of customers with slightly bewildered looks on their faces were served by Mr America, Batman and Darth Maul, while Superman was out and about in his delivery van.
Matt Sparrow, who was dressed as Superman for the day, admitted he had got some interesting reactions on his travels.
He said: “The outfit is embarrassing and all the customers have laughed a lot but hopefully we will raise a lot of money for a good cause.”
The company had already raised more than £300 from their fundraising and hoped the final figure would be in excess of £400.
Destination number five on our road trip was Peckover School in Wisbech, which went all out for Comic Relief.
All the children were in fancy dress while the staff was dressed as school children.
In one Year 6 class alone there was someone dressed as the statue of liberty, two James Bond’s, a leprechaun and a couple of boys porting moustaches disguised as the runners in the 118 advert.
The school also held a competition to decide who head teacher was for the day.
The winner was Simona Lucka, 8, who took to the role naturally.
She certainly knew how to get the children and staff on side with people-pleasing moves like extending the lunch break and offering staff pay rises.
Simona said she enjoyed all the responsibilities that came with the position.
She said: “You get to do lots of things and go in the staff room.”
At the same time, she made it clear that she was no pushover.
She added: “This afternoon I’m taking assembly and I’m going to tell Year 6 not to wipe their shoes on the walls or to kick about rubbish.”
Actual head teacher Sarah Conant said Simona had done such a good job she feared her position might be under threat.
She said: “She’s been very busy making lots of decisions and she is very good at it. I think my job is in danger.”
If that was not enough, the school held a competition to be a dinner lady for the day, with the winners having the power to decide who gets extra pudding.
From the school we headed to Conquest Lodge Care Home in March, where the manager had bravely agreed to get her hair dyed pink.
When we arrived Annika Short, manager of the home which looks after 16 adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems, was being worked on by Bethan Lenton, of March based Tangled Hairdressers, who had given up her time for free.
Annika admitted she was a bit anxious about the final result.
She said: “Luckily I can’t see my hair at the moment but they say I look like a beetroot.
“Unfortunately this is permanent colour which is being put in.”
When I suggested she might be pleased with the end result, she said “I might find I like it or I might find myself wearing a hat”.
Photographer Ryan Jarvis was there all day taking snaps for the care home and asked not to be paid.
Annika estimates the care home has raised nearly £400 for Comic Relief.
We then made the short trip across town to Westwood Primary School, where pupils had dressed up as reporters.
They looked every inch the journalists dressed in suits, wearing glasses and clutching notepads.
Each year group decided how it would raise money for Comic Relief.
Year 3 held a fashion show, Year 4 did a zumba class, Year 5 competed in a spellathon and Year 6 pupils took part in a dinosaur walk.
In the afternoon, the pupils wrote reports about the morning’s activities.
After a little break for a spot of lunch, Steve and I drove over to Chatteris to check in on Glebelands Primary School, where the staff and pupils were definitely having a bad hair day.
The lady at reception had a wig on that made her look like an 80s rock star while the children dyed their hair every colour imaginable, paying one pound each for the privilege. Their efforts raised £250.
Sutton Church of England School had adopted the same theme, and their pupils’ hairstyles were similarly extravagant.
One child carried off a Bob Marley wig while another was unmistakably Scottish with his ginger locks and Tartan hat.
The school did a stellar job selling red noses, off-loading an impressive four boxes of them.
Together with the sponsored bad hair day, they raised £500 for charity.
The final stop on our road trip was Rackham Church of England School, in Witchford.
Here the pupils were in fancy dress. They were told to dress either in red or as someone they would like to be when they grow up.
The school adopted a comedy theme to their fundraising. Each year group put together a joke book, which they sold to parents.
One girl decided to do her bit for Comic Relief by filling a jar with sweets and then getting people to guess how many were inside, although she admitted she didn’t know how many were inside herself because she did not want her reaction to give the total away.
Steve took his final photographs and our road trip was complete. We were both exhausted but agreed that it had been great to see so many people having so much fun for such a worthy cause.