Deck the halls

Festive celebrations get off to a flying start around the UK

As the end of term approaches, independent schools are getting Christmassy, from traditional carol services to charity fun runs.

Barrow Hills pupils have provided Christmas gifts for children of families in need. A group of year five pupils launched a challenge to their fellow school colleagues and to adults in the community to donate gifts for children at Christmas.

Each form in the school made up a Christmas gift bag of festive goodies for one boy and one girl of their own age. The gifts were presented to Haslemere Food Bank at a school assembly. 

L-R: Isabella, Elena, Barrow Hills Headmaster Matthew Unsworth, Annabelle, Lucy, India and Mrs Boreham, Haslemere Foodbank    

In addition, a collection point was set up at the school and staff and parents were asked to donate items such as biscuits, chocolate, tea and coffee, with a value of £5 to £10 each for the Food Bank to display on a gift table. Adults in the Food Bank families then choose two items, not for themselves, but to give to a family member, friend or a relative. 

Commenting on the school’s efforts, Headmaster Matthew Unsworth says: “I am immensely proud of the five children who inspired the school to play a small part in helping those who need it. A key strand of our ethos at Barrow Hills is to instil empathy for others and this is an example of children helping children less fortunate than themselves.”

In Bristol, children from Cleve House School and Little Cleve Nursery wrapped up some ‘love in a box’ for other children who live in countries affected by war.

Pupils joined in with the Operation Christmas Child – Samaritan’s Purse appeal and collected a total of 56 boxes.

Children filled shoeboxes with a ‘wow’ toy and other fun gifts, hygiene items or stationary supplies. Some added a letter and a photo and donated a small sum to cover the postage.

On 4th December, Farlington girls left their school shoes at home and wore slippers to class. The fundraising initiative ‘Slippers for Shelter’ aims to help the 100,000 children in Britain who wake up on Christmas morning without a home. 

Farlington girls in their slippers

The Senior School Carol Service reminded the school of the importance of thinking of others over the Christmas season. The school was entertained by narrative from the Readings and congregational singing, complemented by pauses for reflection between performances.

Girls from years seven and eight at Mayfield School took part in the Mayfield Christmas Tree Festival at a local church, choosing ‘recycling’ as the theme for their tree.

They were inspired by the climate change conference taking place in France at the same time, as well as school club MESSY, which is dedicated to the earth and the environment.

Students not only decorated the tree with recycled items, but also constructed it from discarded timber and old crates. They used items including cans, old CDs, light bulbs, sweet wrappers and socks to make the decorations – even the candles were re-used.

Mayfield girls with their tree

Teacher Mrs Robertson, who led the project, commented: “I have been very impressed by the girls’ ingenuity in creating such beautiful decorations, and I even plan to use some of their ideas on my own tree! We have had lovely positive feedback from people admiring our tree at the festival and the girls should be extremely proud of their efforts.”

Four hundred cheerful students and staff from Lord Wandsworth College recently held their first-ever Santa Dash. 

The event raised £2,000 for charity. High winds didn’t stop the determined runners.  Some pupils pushed their friends on a makeshift sleigh and one pupil with a broken leg was pushed around the course in a wheelchair by her friends.

Buckswood School’s annual Carol Concert (pictured above) gave the wider Buckswood family a chance to catch up, with many parents and Old Buckswoodians visiting from all over the globe.

The service was a mix of traditional lessons and carols with a number of musical and choral performances by the Buckswood Junior Choir and the Buckswood Big Band. The congregation were treated to a choral working of the James Bond theme tune ‘Spectre’ and ‘Bamboleo’; reflecting the international Buckswood cohort and celebrating the cultural diversity at the Guestling School.

The school has pupils from over 45 nations, and Christmas is an opportunity to widen the cultural exchange between students and share traditions. Student Ko, from Holland, said: “Christmas for me happens on December the 5th, when St Nicholas leaves sweets in the shoes we leave out for him. I have been at Buckswood for five years now, and love to send sweets to my friends on the 5th and learn about their traditions”.

For some Europeans, Christmas Eve is the major day in the holiday season, the Chinese will celebrate with fried chicken on Christmas Day, and the Russians and Latin American scholars will be late returning in the New Year as their main celebration is the arrival of the three kings at the beginning of January.

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