Virtual Christmas balloon race to raise vital school funds

PTA members with head teacher Mrs Ruth McGlone. Pictured left to right: Sarah Oakley with Oliver and

PTA members with head teacher Mrs Ruth McGlone. Pictured left to right: Sarah Oakley with Oliver and William Oakley, Ruth McGlone, Joanne Golding with Emily Golding, and Tracey Taylor with Jocelyn and Jamie Taylor. Picture: Sarah Oakley - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk school is putting on a virtual Christmas fundraiser to make up for its loss of income.

Watlington Primary School is taking part in a virtual balloon race as part of a fundraiser that will run from Tuesday, December 1 to December 8.

Organisers decided to hold the event after their spring, summer and Christmas term fundraising was cancelled due to the coronavirus, which included their school discos, fayres, Christmas performances and a visit from Santa.

The west Norfolk primary relies heavily on its fundraising calendar to continue its running.

And now its PTA hopes they can raise money virtually to ensure the school can provide pupils with “the school experience they deserve,” with fundraising from the race going towards the purchasing of guided reading books.

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Sarah Oakley, chair of the primary’s PTA, said: “Covid has brought further needs to the school as it has had to adapt significantly in the way it operates.

“A big change is with guided reading. This is normally completed in groups of six children with the teacher.

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“This is now being done as a whole class and in some classes there are only six text books to go around a class of up to 30 so teachers are resorting to photocopying pages.

“We are also raising funds to purchase some additional iPads for the school, to be used by children at home who have to self-isolate due to Covid.”

The chair said there had been a “great initial response” to the event, with around 100 balloons sold so far.

The event does not use actual balloons. People can take part in the national competition and support the school by paying £3 for a balloon, which can be customised, and on December 1 they will be virtually launched from Harrods in London.

The balloon that travels the furthest wins, with prizes including £500 for the winner, an iPad for the runner up and £10 book tokens.

Watlington PTA will also be awarding 10 prizes, which have been donated by local businesses, to those buying a balloon for Watlington.

Balloons must be purchased by Monday, November 30. The seven-day simulation race, available to watch on Google Maps, goes live at 12pm on December 1.

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