Sunderland primary school holds heartwarming day

Mar 5, 2024

Children wore red for school to support a charity that is very close to the hearts of all who attend St Leonard’s Catholic Primary School in Sunderland.

Four-year-old Lily McKenzie, who is a Reception pupil at the Silksworth primary, has a congenital heart defect and had a pacemaker fitted when she was only 12 hours old.

Lily inspired the whole school, which is part of Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust, to Wear Red for CHUF Day to support the Children’s Heart Unit Fund and raised £200 for the charity.

Much to the delight of the pupils, Sunderland Football Club mascot Samson popped into school to see them while they enjoyed a day of learning and activities to raise awareness of how to look after your heart. In Reception, Lily’s friends decorated hearts to show how much they care about her and how important she is to the Reception family. The whole school also gathered outside for an active session to music to promote exercising to keep your heart healthy.

Year 6 pupils Scarlett Oliver and Daniel Alapa from the school council, led by Year 2 teacher Ian France, were inspired by Lily to hold the special day in school to support the charity.

Scarlett, 11, who is chair of the school council, said: “It was quite a surprise when Samson turned up to support our awareness day. The whole school joined in dancing together with Lily.”

Head girl and Year 6 pupil, Bethany Ashmore, 10, said: “There is a little girl in our school who receives support from CHUF and we wanted to raise awareness of this and for other people with heart problems.

“I also know a baby boy who is receiving support from CHUF and I have raised funds through a sponsored walk for this charity as it is close to my heart.”

Headteacher Dionne Dunn said: “We are so proud of how the whole school community joined together to support one of our younger pupils, Lily. The children were fascinated to learn all about Lily and her heart and why she takes medicine every day. They admired her bravery and she said she felt very special to share her story with the school.

“Everyone enjoyed the awareness day and we are thrilled to have done our bit to support this important charity and raise awareness to all our pupils and staff of ways to keep your heart healthy while learning more about the vital work this charity does.

“Working with the wider community and supporting good causes is very important to us all at St Leonard’s.”

St Leonard’s recently received a letter of congratulations from the Minister of Schools, Damian Hinds MP, for being placed in the top 2% of schools in the country for achievement in reading, writing and mathematics in the Key Stage 2 assessment last year. The results, published on 14th December, revealed that 91% of the school’s pupils reached or exceeded the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics at the end of Key Stage 2.

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