Students at Bede Academy, in Blyth, raised enough in their sponsored read to pay for two guide dogs to be bred and trained.

Guide Dogs cheque

Children who got their eyes down and read hundreds of books have raised thousands of pounds to give more freedom to people with visual impairment.

The project was organised by teacher Louise Weston and the School Action Group, which is now coordinating a poll among the children to choose names for their puppies, who are due to be born later this year.

Year 5 student Esra Aydeniz explained: “We’re going to ask everyone to pick the two names they like best then the School Action Group will see which are the most popular names.”

Sue Robinson, community fundraiser for North East England at Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, visited the academy to accept a cheque for £4,483.28 at a special assembly.

Geoff Hutchinson, the academy’s blind drums and percussion tutor who visits regularly with his guide dog Millie, told the children: “I am able to come to school and help pupils learn and play music and have a wonderful time doing that. Hopefully your contribution will help other people live a better life and also to help others.”

The new puppies, which could be labradors, retrievers or German shepherd cross, will spend their first 14-16 months with a Guide Dogs puppy walker followed by 18 weeks at the association’s training centre and a final 12 weeks’ training with their new owner.

Irene Watson, headteacher at Bede Academy South, said: “Once the puppies are 16 weeks old we’re told they will be able to visit the academy and the children will then be able to track them as they grow and go through their training, which will be very exciting.

“The children worked incredibly hard to raise such a huge amount. They read lots and lots of books, and we’re very grateful to parents, family and friends for sponsoring them.”


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Students experience water poverty



CHILDREN have been given a powerful insight into the plight of youngsters around the world who live with poverty, drought and starvation as part of their daily lives.

Oxfam representatives visited Bede Academy South, Blyth, to work with students on the issues of global poverty.

Children completed several laps of the playground carrying bottles of water on their heads to give them an understanding of the struggle many in Third World countries face just to drink clean water – and raised £500 for Oxfam in the process.

In workshops and assemblies, students also considered the vulnerability of life connected to water and how not having clean supplies on tap could impact on young people’s lives.

This included dying of thirst, missing education because children spend all day walking miles to collect water and starving because drought kills crops.

Last year Oxfam reached almost four million people with its health promotion programmes, with nearly half a million benefiting from support to improve their crops, goods or services and 1.4 million seeing improved sanitation.

By mobilising millions of people worldwide the charity has witnessed extreme poverty half in the past 15 years and it predicts in another 15 it could end it for good.

Year 5 teacher Louise Weston said: “It has been an incredibly powerful session and pupils have been shocked to hear what children their age often have to endure outside of Western Europe.

“Our children said they felt guilty, but the session taught them not to feel bad about it, rather to appreciate how lucky they are to live where they do.

“The water walk also raised funds for Oxfam and pupils heard from Bede Academy Vice Principal Steve Nelson about his first-hand experiences of life in Africa, which brought the various issues impoverished people face even closer to home.”