Hellesdon High School’s bird box project will help children in India

The creative talents and charitable efforts of Norwich pupils are set to help their teacher carry out much-needed building work at an Indian school.

Hellesdon High School has had links with a school and orphanage in the Andhra Pradesh area of India for a number of years.

Through a series of fundraising events – including non-school uniform days, cake sales and sponsored walks – it has funded projects from buying new books to filling an entire classroom with the equipment it needs.

The academy's latest effort is set to see construction teacher John Duncan head out to the Emmanuel Grace School in India to carry out a building project and aim to 'do a little good'.

He said: 'They haven't got a lot at all. We are going to be discussing what they want me to do. It's something I've always wanted to do – doing some good for a good reason.'

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He will be joined by his wife as well as Hellesdon High's assistant headteacher Serena Jones, who first arranged the link with India after her friend and former Norwich minister Nicky Smith set up the school with her husband.

Miss Jones said: 'Mr Duncan wants to go out and do a building project to make their lives a bit better. But in India, the things that are really expensive are the building materials rather than the labour. We wanted to raise some money to pay for the materials.'

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The school came up with a scheme to build and sell bird boxes which its year 10 students were quick to get involved with.

Using materials donated for free by Norfolk timber merchants Ridgeons, the students made 40 of them and raised nearly �300. And with a further donation of �250 by the company, Mr Duncan, who plans to make the visit next Easter, already has more than �500 towards his project.

Now the teacher just needs to find out what the building project will be.

'They would like a play area where they could hop, skip and jump,' said Mr Duncan, whose son Paul Duncan is the director of technology at Hellesdon High. 'There might be some decorating to do in the classroom or they might need pathways created to some areas. Those are some of the suggestions – we will have a discussion about what they need.'

Miss Jones said she had been to the school and orphanage a number of times and was confident any improvement would make a big difference to the youngsters' lives.

Between 40 and 50 children are cared for at the orphanage and school with other families paying a small fee for their children to also be taught.

The school knows that educating just one child can transform the lives of his or her entire family – even if the education is very basic.

Miss Jones said: 'There's no power during the day. We raised money to get them computers but they can only use them for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evenings.

'They're just cement rooms, they're bare, and the blackboard is a painted black strip on the wall. They sit on the floor and they learn by rote from the books – teaching is very, very basic.

'Little by little we are improving this school by doing what we can.'

The school is looking for further donations towards the building project. To help or make a donation, contact Hellesdon High School on 01603 424711.

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