Cumbrian school continues charitable work started by late teaching assistant

The money that is made from the sales of the clothes is reinvested back into the charity. Credit: GNAAS

A Cumbrian primary school has continued the charity work started by a former teaching assistant who died just before Christmas.

Fir Ends Primary School in near Carlisle has been supporting the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) since 2006.

The school hosts collections of unwanted clothing which is then collected and recycled by the GNAAS with the money generated from sales reinvested back into the charity.

The clothing collection was run by former teaching assistant Angie Smith.

The collection at the school is organised by the parents, teachers, and friends of the school.

The primary school has been hosting the clothing collection since 2006. Credit: GNAAS

The school aims to have a collection three times a year, which raises around £300.

Angie Smith took on coordination duties and was described as a “passionate cheerleader for various charities”. She died just before Christmas 2023.

Daryl Spencer, headteacher at Fir Ends Primary School said: “Angie had a lot of charities that she would fundraise for, but she particularly enjoyed the air ambulance collections - it was an ideal opportunity to catch up for a chat with everyone in the wider community when they were dropping off.

“Apart from bustling about, marshalling cars, helping to empty boots and greeting the van when it arrived, she kept a spreadsheet of collection tallies and an excited email trail usually followed every collection.

"She took great pride in the success of 'her' collections and was the person who decided that we could probably fill three vans a year, and she was right.

“The collections will now act as one of the (many) moments in the year when memories of Angie, and her contributions within the local area, will be close to people's thoughts.”

The school has raised thousands of pounds for the charity over the years with their clothing donations.

The clothing collection raises hundreds of pounds annually for the GNAAS. Credit: GNAAS

Daryl added: "In a rural community like ours, the value of the air ambulance is appreciated, particularly by those whose work involves being in remote areas that a normal ambulance would be unable to reach.

"Many people within our community know or know of someone who has needed it. Because of this, the collections are always well-supported.

“The collections also bring together the whole community at key points in the calendar. The chance meet-ups with old faces from the school community - and beyond it - also mean that there's a sense of community amongst everyone who drops off bags.

"The money raised is useful, but really it's that thread that links and sustains our school community through contribution to a shared goal that keeps our collection going.

“Arranging collections is easy to do - and it's something that's easy for a lot of people to contribute to since most of us have clothes we don't wear or need any more. One bag from everyone soon adds up.”

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