PUBLISHED 18 June 2022
Village Aid is an international charity founded by Arnold Geography teacher, Mr Kendall Lee over 30 years ago and supported by the school (now AKS Lytham) ever since. Village Aid supports a village called Buigiri, and the nearby Blind Rehabilitation Centre, in Tanzania.
A school tradition has been to undertake a sponsored annual 'longest day' 10km challenge, coinciding with the summer solstice. The distance reflects the walk to school that many children do with inadequate footwear, encouraging our students to ‘walk in their shoes’ and gain an appreciation of what life is like for the school children we are supporting.
Nicola Hamilton, AKS Action charity joint co-ordinator, explained how the event is an important one in our school calendar “The last year we completed the challenge together was 2019, which was a record year for participants. In 2020, we had the very successful 'Lockdown Longest Day Challenge' and 2021 students we were in the midst of class bubbles, so we were unable to run the event. However, the 2022 comeback was even better than expected, it was truly heart-warming to see the members of our school community and friends of AKS were ready to make that early morning journey once again”.
The engagement across our community was fantastic with members of the school, from Year 7s new to this event, encouraged to ‘beat the bus’ to gain further sponsorship, as well as new staff taking part.
There was a strong presence from the Performing Arts department this year, including alumna and member of staff, Niamh Crean, who first did the longest day challenge in 2012, although this time without the pink onesie she wore when she was in Year 7! Similarly, Ellis Wholton-Jones from our Sports department, returned to support the challenge, after first completing it as a student in 2009.
As well as current members of staff, Mrs Busby again ‘came ‘out of retirement' to complete the walk, after leaving the school’s English department three years ago. Mr Rudd donned his famous vest to run the 10km in his last event as a serving member of staff. We are very much hoping that he will also continue to join us throughout his retirement.
Members of our wider community have also got involved, with Mrs Lucie Grant (Governor and Mother to Grace year 8) saying, “I'm so glad to be supporting such a worthy charity this year”. Parent participants included Mrs Shakespeare and her boys are who have become regular participants of this event. This year, their sister, Kathryn (Year 6) completed it before she went on the London trip with Prep School. Likewise, Mrs Peebles and Mrs Murray are now very much established members of this event. It was also lovely to meet those who were new to the event and to hear their enthusiasm for joining it again next year.
Mrs Hamilton explained, “once again, it astonished me how much people are so kind and generous and willing to get behind this event. Special thanks to all the participants from the families in Prep School and Senior School, staff to our alumni, this year the has been incredible and one of our best to date. The AKS community has raised over nearly £1200. A particularly generous donation was given by Mrs Watson, who is native to Tanzania and has children in Years 6 and 11.
This amount will go a long way to help fund the mosquito nets which assist the members of the village in the protection against Malaria. Also, it will help support the scholarship programmes for the students we support the local school in Burgiri. The AKS Action Team of boys in Year 10 did a great job promoting this event to get the support we have had today. It makes me so very proud to be a member of the AKS community.”
Alex Brown, Director of External Relations concluded, “The participation and funds raised every year, are testament to the school’s ambition for our students to not just be successful as individuals, but to also be people of value to their immediate and wider communities. This spirit of service is rooted in the culture of the school.”
If you still wish to donate to the Blind Rehabilitation Village in Tanzania, please bring to the Senior School office by July 5th.