Prize for Africa aid project

13th May 2011 at 01:00
Having raised pound;120,000 for Aids orphans, Stonelaw High deserves its Social Enterprise award, writes Henry Hepburn

For a school to put a few hundred pounds towards a good cause is commendable - to raise pound;120,000 for 300 Aids orphans is on another level altogether.

That remarkable achievement by South Lanarkshire's Stonelaw High has earned a top prize at the UK-wide Social Enterprise Awards.

The Rutherglen school has been running Stonelaw Fair Traders since 2003, selling Fairtrade goods and sending all profits to South Africa to help educate Aids orphans. The Social Enterprise Coalition identified the company as one of the most inspiring of the 62,000 social enterprises in the UK by conferring the Young Persons' Award.

Stonelaw was represented at the prizegiving, held at the O2 in London, by pupils David Aitken, Carys Kelly, Radika Kumari and religious and moral education teacher Isabel Gilchrist.

"To win at Scottish level was amazing, but to win the UK award is just unbelievable," says Mrs Gilchrist.

"I'm just so proud of them, as well as all the other kids who have helped over the years since we started. It's a fantastic achievement to be recognised like this, having raised pound;120,000 in such a short time to help so many Aids orphans in this way."

The pupils were 12 and 13-year-olds and had to do a special presentation, after which they received a tough grilling session. But it wasn't a problem for them, she says, "as they all care so passionately and spoke from the heart".

Stonelaw Fair Traders supports an area of South Africa with a particularly high rate of Aids, where nearly a quarter of children have lost both parents to the disease and there is 70-per-cent unemployment.

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition, said there had been a record number of entries, so for Stonelaw to win was "a truly remarkable achievement".

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