Christmas is coming to needy children in Eastern Europe and Asia thanks to an annual collection by a Blyth academy.

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Sixth Form students at Bede Academy help load Blythswood Care’s van with donated shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts

Sixth Form students at Bede Academy help load Blythswood Care’s van with donated shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts

Students at Bede Academy North donated 123 shoeboxes filled with toys, classroom equipment, hats and gloves, and toiletries, while younger children at the academy’s south site collected a further 100 boxes.

The gifts have been collected by Blythswood Care, which is aiming to send its two millionth shoebox in its 50th anniversary year to children in countries like Albania, Kosovo, Ukraine and Pakistan.

Graeme Murray, a teacher of philosophy, theology and ethics at Bede Academy, said: “We collect shoeboxes every year and we were very pleased this time to contribute to Blythswood Care’s landmark total in its special year.

“The appeal is always very well supported by our students and their generous families.

“Some students bring them in individually and others group together in their tutor groups. We try to encourage some friendly competition to see which tutor group and house collects the most, which this year was Oswald house and English teacher Andrew Hutchinson’s Year 11s.”

Christmas has come early with cake, carols and lots of cups of tea for elderly neighbours of a Northumberland school.

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 Bede Academy, in Blyth, opened its doors to welcome local residents to a festive afternoon tea served by students.

Teacher Graeme Murray said: “It’s wonderful for us to spend time with our neighbours in friendship and fellowship and we thoroughly enjoy hosting them and, in many cases, seeing them return time and again.”

The 35 pensioners enjoyed an array of sandwiches and savoury bites, cakes, doughnuts and mince pies prepared by the academy’s catering team.

Sixth formers and Year 9 prefects served the visitors and chatted with them in the academy restaurant while pianist Dylan Fletcher and other student musicians played carols and Christmas songs.

Sophie Robson, 16, got to serve her own grandma Carol Robson, who was among the guests.

“I was nervous at first because I’ve never served people like this before, but I love making conversation so it’s been really good,” said Sophie.

One of the guests Maureen Swan said she had attended the academy’s teas every year since moving back to her home town of Blyth seven years ago.

“When I first came I was extremely impressed with the manners and behaviour of the children and the whole feel of the place. I’m glad to say that over the years that hasn’t changed at all.

“It’s nice for the youngsters to meet and mix with the local residents and it’s nice for the older people to be with the children,” said Mrs Swan.

As well as neighbours from nearby streets, the academy also welcomed residents of Nye Bevan House sheltered accommodation and South Quay Care Home.

Student entrepreneurs on a mission to reduce food waste have won an annual business competition for schools.

Team Velocity from Bede Academy, in Blyth, came up with Pro-Scan, a device that logs the expiry date of purchased food then sends text alerts to warn of produce nearing its use-by date, along with recipe ideas for how to use it.


Their idea and presentation won the top prize and £500 at the annual Emmanuel Schools Foundation (ESF) Business Game, a challenge set over a week in which teams have to establish a business, develop a product or service having done market research then present to a panel of judges on finals day.


Three Year 9 teams from each of the four ESF schools took part – Emmanuel College, Gateshead, Trinity Academy, near Doncaster, Bede Academy and The King’s Academy, Middlesbrough, which hosted the final.


The businesses had to demonstrate commercial awareness by working out finances, develop ideas for a website and other marketing, consider sales and distribution, and show corporate social responsibility by choosing a charity to receive a share of profits.


Velocity Pro-Scan, which would cost £44.99, also provides information about local foodbanks so that any unwanted food does not go to waste.


Managing director Poppy Ainsworth, 13, said: “The idea came from the fact that 40 per cent of food is wasted and our device would help reduce that because people would know which food in their fridge to use first.


“I think the judges thought it was a unique idea and that it solved a real problem, but some of the other teams had some really innovative ideas too so we were really pleased to win.”


The runners-up title went to Illumination, from Trinity Academy, for their Bike-orb cycle light, which reflects a coloured ‘no entry’ zone of light onto the road around a bike to protect riders from passing vehicles.


The other teams from Bede Academy were Team Delta, who came up with PHD, a health device to warn of imminent collapse due to PoTS, a condition suffered by half a million people in the UK, and Apollo Empire, who wanted to retail two jackets for safe cycling and comfortable travel.


Adam Cooper, head of business, IT and economics at The King’s Academy, who organised the final, said: “I have been thoroughly impressed by the creativity, thought and preparation shown by all the businesses.”


John Inglis-Jones, executive officer at Anglican International Development, who was accompanied by fellow judges Debbie Schofield, from ESF, and Ruth Watson, from Middlesbrough Football Club’s Enterprise Academy, added: “I know from many years working in corporate finance that it isn’t easy to come up with a concept, work out the finances and get an idea under way.


“Everybody did extremely well but we felt that Velocity had the clearest concept with the greatest potential.”