Just buy me a bucket ...

Kind-hearted pupils in Bridgend are on a seasonal mission for Tsunami victims

NOT MANY children would include buckets, blankets and tarpaulin on their Christmas wish-lists. But pupils at Tondu primary school would rather forfeit the latest must-have toy from their stocking this year to help save a life, according to their teacher.

Years 5 and 6 pupils at the Bridgend school were asked to come up with their own fundraising appeal for victims of the Asian Tsunami after the school became the latest to sign up to the UK-wide critical skills programme.

And, as other children celebrated the countdown to Christmas with parties, they vowed to make their appeal fun-free in memory of victims who died in the 2004 Boxing Day tragedy.

Y6 teacher Katie Watson said the children had been amazed at how much presents on their wish-list had cost, compared with items that could save a life. She said the pupils held a special assembly this week to give a business-like presentation of their plans.

"The children have decided they want to make their appeal as serious as possible, despite it being Christmas," said Miss Watson.

"They realise this time of the year is not just about tinsel, mince pies and expensive presents. Some have even said they will forfeit a present for the appeal."

The pupils' appeal follows a visit to the school by Oxfam aid worker Craig Owen who flew out to the Tsunami-stricken region of Banda Aceh in Indonesia last week.

He will be helping victims who are still sleeping rough after the killer wave hit Asian shores and destroyed their homes.

But he found time to speak to pupils about his aid work for Oxfam before jetting off to the disaster zone for Christmas.

He told them that a piece of tarpaulin, costing around pound;8, could stop a homeless victim from dying by keeping them warm and dry.

"The children acted in a such a professional way and understood the reality of these people devastated by disaster," said Mr Owen.

Latest figures from the United Nations predict suggest about 250,000 people died as a result of the freak wave, in what has been described as "among the worst human tragedies in history".

The pupils are the latest in Wales to make adult-decisions as part of the critical skills, a concept devised in the United States. The programme was introduced following concerns that children were leaving school without planning, negotiating or decision-making skills.

There are now more than 50 schools in Wales signed up to the programme.

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