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This summer a group of school friends from The Blake Primary School in Witney took part in a sponsored cycle challenge to raise funds for Helen & Douglas House. They chose the hospice to raise funds for after we cared for their teacher’s baby, Toby, at the end of his life. The pupils from year five, aged 9 and 10 years old, originally planned to cycle 100 miles and raise £500, but more than surpassed their miles and fundraising target!

In the end the young pupils ended up cycling 326 miles and raising £2,959 (this total is now over £3.2k!). Their planned cycle event took place in their school grounds, which Head Teacher, Tim Edwards-Grundy, opened up especially for them. They cycled 167 miles in total at the socially distanced event, doing multiple laps of the school field. In addition to their sponsorship money they also raised £238.67 selling cakes and were joined by The Mayor Joy Aitman who congratulated them all. The remainder of the miles were racked up by the children cycling with their families before the end, in places as far-flung as Cornwall and the New Forest. 
pupils from Blake Primary cycling
They were inspired to fundraise on behalf of their year 5 teacher, Zoë Lynch and her husband, Jake, who lost their son Toby, when he was four and a half months old, to a rare genetic condition. Toby was cared for at Helen & Douglas House and we supported the family through their most difficult times. Mrs Lynch’s pupils were devastated to learn of Toby’s tragic passing, but were so inspired by their teacher’s bravery when she shared her story on Just Giving and social media to help raise money for the hospice that had provided such vital care for their whole family.

Finley said; ‘We felt really bad for Mrs Lynch and wanted to do something to help. The hospice seems really nice. It’s got a lovely garden and cool pool and it looks like they make important memories there. It’s good that people don’t have to pay when they are having such a sad time, so it’s good that people can raise money to help. We wanted to cycle as we love cycling and it’s good to do something with our friends’.
Spurred on to do something for Helen & Douglas House in memory of Toby the children took on the challenge to cycle 100 miles between them and asked friends and family to sponsor them.

Class teacher, and parent to one of the pupils taking part, Richeldis Castree, said; ‘The children came up with this idea themselves and were really determined to see the challenge through. We calculated that 5 laps of the school playground equalled 1 mile, so they had to do a lot of peddling! We made a wonderful a day of it with picnics, cakes and games. It was a real celebration of Toby’s short but precious life and the impact he had on us all. All the staff at school are super proud of how the children have responded to this tragic news. They are an inspiration to us all and demonstrate the school values.’

Andrea Baganz-Pritchard from Helen & Douglas House said ‘We would like to say a massive thank you to the teachers and pupils at The Blake Primary School for raising this fantastic amount of money for our charity. We have only been able to continue to care for local terminally ill children and families like Toby’s throughout the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to wonderful supporters like The Blake Primary School so we cannot thank them enough –you are amazing.’

Pupil, Jude and his younger sister Thomasina, said; ‘We know how important it is for parents to have somewhere to stay when their child is ill. Our cousin died when he was nearly 3. We want to help other families’.

There is still time to sponsor these amazing pupils from Blakes School, you just need to visit their Just Giving page to make a donation. Alternatively, you may want to set up your own fundraising activity, or you can take part in some of ours including our newly launched ‘Bake it ’til you make it’ baking competition. 

Sponsor pupils from Blakes School