Throughout this academic year, we have been supporting The Treehouse, a local charity situated in Holt that aims to help vulnerable children and adults within the community. At the end of June, the pupils who are involved in the School’s charity committee, proudly presented a cheque for £19,182.35 to The Treehouse, as the year of fundraising comes to a close.
Pupils organised and took part in a variety of events over the year, both in and out of lockdown. During the lockdown in March, over 50 pupils and teachers completed a half marathon. As they couldn’t all join together, individuals took on the 13.1 mile challenge around a route local to them. When back in school, pupils and staff took part in Odd Socks Day, a campaign which aims to celebrate the differences that make us all unique, and raised a total of £753 for The Treehouse. A football tournament was organised at the Prep School, which raised over £500 and provided great entertainment for the pupils.
Christmas time provided ample opportunity for fundraising events. The committee organised a Christmas jumper day, which allowed pupils to wear a festive themed jumper to School in exchange for donating £1 to The Treehouse. The School’s chaplain, Father Jack Branford, organised a Christmas tree festival which filled the Chapel with over forty trees, beautifully decorated by members of the School community. A portion of the money raised from the festival was donated to the charity. The pupils also recorded Duran Duran’s Ordinary World and Pray by Take That for their annual ‘Gresham’s Guys and Girls’ singles. As the tracks could be downloaded for free, the donations for the charity came from people who appreciated and enjoyed the songs that had been produced.
The biggest fundraiser of the year was the Gritty Grasshopper, a 5km mud and obstacle run around the school site. Pupils negotiated muddy ditches, a giant slip and slide, as well as various obstacles from the School’s outdoor activity centre. Things were made even more challenging when staff ambushed the runners with water pistols and powdered paint! The event raised an incredible £4,000.
Many pupils took on their own individual challenges, including a year 10 pupil who cycled 145 miles from coast to coast in June raising £979.
Gresham’s teachers were also heavily involved in the fundraising efforts. Julie Flower, Chris Cox and Tom Burnett collectively ran a total of 667km during the month of January, which raised a brilliant amount of £1,040. Following on from this success, the trio decided to take on the ‘Mad May’ challenge, which saw them collectively completing a triathlon every day during the month of May. Tom and Chris ended the challenge by completing a half Iron Man challenge, consisting of a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21.1km run.
Pupils who are a part of the our Services programme provided practical help earlier in the year, when they helped to create a new community garden at The Treehouse Cafe. They got to work by digging up the new garden and painting the fencing to give it a brighter look.
Staff at the Treehouse have been impressed with the students’ effort and enthusiasm. Lorna Berry, Co-Director at The Treehouse, commented “We are so grateful to Gresham’s School for the incredible funds raised by their students, parents and teachers for The Treehouse and our community in Holt and the surrounding areas. We are in awe of their huge achievement considering much of the fundraising happened during the lockdowns.
We opened The Treehouse after our Children’s Centre closed. We knew how important it was to have a place for people to meet and connect with others as so many are socially isolated and alone, this is even more important due to high levels of child poverty within Holt, these levels have been exacerbated due to the pandemic.”
The Treehouse runs free groups for all ages, ranging from music groups to a bereavement café, and from gardening groups to breastfeeding support. They also have a community fridge to reduce waste and help families save money on their weekly shop, as well as a kitchen garden where children and volunteers grow fresh food for the café.
Lorna continues “The funding from Gresham’s is going to enable us and our community to work together to create an incredible sensory garden for everyone to enjoy; there will be elements specially designed to benefit those with additional needs, visual and hearing impairment, dementia, mobility issues and a whole range of other needs. The crowning glory will be a beautiful low level treehouse which will be accessible to all. This would have been impossible without the kindness, generosity and hard work of everyone at Gresham’s school.”
Tom Burnett, Gresham’s Head of PE, who leads the Charity Committee said “We are incredibly proud of our pupils who have worked so hard to raise such vital funds for The Treehouse. It has been a challenging year for fundraising but the pupils thought of new initiatives to ensure we could continue raising money throughout the lockdowns and restrictions. We are all so pleased to be supporting The Treehouse with their sensory garden and, of course, their new treehouse, something which will be invaluable to local families”.