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What am I bid for this Damien Hirst shark?

Formaldehyde-free artwork fetches #163;60K at school fundraiser

Formaldehyde-free artwork fetches #163;60K at school fundraiser

While less well-placed schools might auction off a book token or a basket of soaps at a fundraising event, the Harrodian School likes to go one better.

The exclusive independent in southwest London, which educates the children of the rich and often famous, took it in its stride when one parent - artist Damien Hirst (pictured) - donated a painting of a shark to its charity auction. Another parent - Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor - also donated a print to the event, held at Mansion House in London.

The auction, which included signed memorabilia from former pupil and Twilight star Robert Pattinson, raised #163;104,000 for the Kids Company charity. The Damien Hirst, one of his "spin paintings" of a shark silhouette, sold for #163;60,000 alone after being auctioned off by actress Gillian Anderson. A Rolling Stones 50th anniversary book signed by another parent - Mick Jagger - sold for #163;6,000.

The money will go towards buying beds for the vulnerable children who approach Kids Company for help, following research that showed a third of those who refer themselves to the charity do not have a bed. It is part of a wider push by the school to engage more widely with the community: it is also backing a free school, due to open next year.

As part of the fundraising effort, the school held a competition, which cost pupils #163;10 to enter, for which they created artworks of beds. The entries were put on display for an evening at the Halcyon Gallery in Mayfair.

Teachers at the Harrodian School - founded by Sir Alford Houstoun-Boswall in 1993 - say they are keen for pupils to see beyond the privileged bubble of their affluent school.

"We do understand how privileged we are and I send all my older kids out to soup kitchens and old folks' homes to help the children understand what it is like," said head of seniors Dr Andrew Parmley.

After the auction, the school's next major project is a foray into state education. It is playing a key role in setting up a free school: Thomson House in Mortlake, Richmond, which is expected to open in September next year.

The team setting up the 4-11 school is being led by Matteo Rossetti, head of prep at the Harrodian School. The free school's website says it hopes pupils will be fulfilled through both personal achievement and dedication to the community.

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