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Pupils help tsunami victims

School Aid proves big success as more than a million children join in the fundraising efforts. Joseph Lee reports

More than a million pupils helped to raise more than pound;500,000 in a day of action for the victims of the tsunami in southern Asia.

About 3,100 schools from all over the country held fundraising events last Friday as part of School Aid UK.

The money from non-uniform days, sponsored walks and bring-and-buy sales will provide life-saving equipment and supplies, as well as paying for the reconstruction of schools hit by the tsunami.

School Aid was co-ordinated by Lincolnshire council and about 40 of the 171 education authorities in England and Wales took part .

Cheryle Berry, director of education, said: "It's children working for children." Nearly a third of the 281,000 people believed to have died were children.

The organisers hope that twinning arrangements can be set up with schools affected by the Boxing Day disaster.

They are also considering making School Aid an annual event.

Many other schools have organised separate events. A similar day, involving 70,000 pupils at Somerset state schools, raised more than pound;150,000.

Two pupils from Millfield school, a private secondary also in Somerset, are preparing to fly to Sri Lanka next month to see how the money their school raised is being spent. Hayley Thompson and Cameron Nichol, both 18, helped organise Millfield's pound;5,000 appeal for the Rahuna Children's Trust, a Sri Lankan charity run by the parent of a former pupil.

"The disaster is in everyone's minds at the moment, but over time the news reports will dwindle," Hayley said. "The idea is to go over there and build some long-term relationships and links with the trust. We hope that after we have left, the school will still be supporting the trust and helping people in Sri Lanka."

Several overseas students at the school were caught up in the disaster, although none suffered serious injuries.

One boy was sailing off the Maldives when the wave struck. He was swept over an island on the giant wave and had to swim back to safety before helping to rescue a girl trapped under a fallen wall.

Three teachers remain among the missing. They are: Hannah Tugwell, a teacher at Marlborough centre for autistic children in Kent; Carole Fairbairn, former head of Coworth Park, a private primary school, in Surrey; and Susan Ford, head of modern languages at Withins high school, Bolton.

Heather Gill, a learning support assistant at Neville Lovett community school in Hampshire, was confirmed dead in Thailand.

Ilam CofE primary in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, closed last week to mark the funeral of five-year-old pupil Isabella Peatfield.

International 20 Friday magazine 8

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