St Mary's Junior School pupils and parents are good sports for Ark

PUPILS at a local school are under starter’s orders for a unique sports day – and they are aiming to have fun, get fit, and make a difference to Ark Cancer Centre Charity.

The COVID-19 pandemic means that while around 140 pupils are still coming in to St Mary’s Church of England Junior School, in Belle Vue Road, Old Basing, more than 200 are unable to attend school at present and have been home schooling.

However, staff, pupils and parents are determined that the popular annual sports day will still go ahead, so events will be held for the children who are in school while others are being encouraged to participate virtually at home.

As well as having fun and keeping active, everyone is hoping to raise money for Ark Cancer Centre Charity after pupils who are at school voted to support the charity.

Headteacher Caroline Welch said: “Our annual sports day was booked for June 30. It is always a wonderful event for the children and parents, with many attending to cheer on all those taking part.

“While we cannot come together at the moment as a full community, we would like all the children to participate in an activity around this date that encourages them to have fun and keep active.

“As well as encouraging everyone to keep active by taking part in our ‘virtual’ sports day, we are delighted to be raising money for one of our local charities, and the children currently in school have voted to support Ark Cancer Charity. 

“We have set up a JustGiving page – ­ – for the event, and we hope parents, their families and friends will support us in raising money for this really worthwhile cause by sponsoring their child and family to take part.”

Ms Welch added: “In school, we will be organising events for children within their ‘bubbles’. Due to social distancing, these will be spread over a number of days to allow access to the field – and, of course, it will be dependent on the good old British weather!

“For those families at home, we would love them to organise a sports day and to involve the whole family.”

Whether they are taking part at school or at home, the pupils are being encouraged to dress up in bright sports clothes to add some colour to the fun event.

Staff will be taking pictures of pupils taking part in school and families are being asked to send in their own photos from home which can then be featured on a sports day gallery on the school website.

And for those taking part, a memento of this unique event will be available as a 2020 Sports Day certificate can be downloaded from the school website for parents to present to pupils – and vice versa.

Ark Cancer Centre Charity trustee Merv Rees said: “Thank you so much to everyone at St Mary’s Junior School for this wonderful show of support for Ark.

“We hope that everyone has fun taking part in the sports day events at school or at home, and thank you to everyone who makes a donation. Your support means such a lot, particularly at this challenging time for Ark and all other charities.”

Ark is raising £5million to help Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust colleagues to deliver supportive care and services, complementary therapies, and an enhanced environment for cancer patients and their loved ones in a NHS cancer treatment centre at Basingstoke hospital.