Thank you for all your donations

22 Aug 2013

Hi everyone,

We hope everyone is having a nice summer so far.
Since our last blog post we have raised an astounding £1,500 for the 'BAKER’S BIKE RIDE’, so a massive thank you to everyone who has already donated as this is an amazing achievement and we feel truly touched!
It is the money that we raise, and this money alone, that helps to support the Journalism course and the annual student awards at Villiers Park Educational Trust. Our aim is to raise enough money to keep the course and award scheme running forever, but we need your help! The generosity of everyone so far has really inspired us so we are upping our fundraising target to £3,000...which we know is definitely achievable! Please help us to reach this goal by visiting our fundraising site: Thank you in advance for all your donations...each one is very much appreciated.
The bike ride preparations themselves are well underway - we have purchased the oh-so-glamorous padded shorts so we are ready to take on those hills!
One of the BAKER’S BIKERS potentially taking on the bike ride will be Nigel Griffiths, Chrissy’s cousin, who visited Villiers Park in June. He provides a little insight as to why he believes Villiers Park is doing such a great job, and he has shared this with us all:
“I knew nothing of Villiers Park Educational Trust before I heard its Chief Executive, Richard Gould, speak at Mike’s Memorial Service last November.   After the service I chatted briefly with Richard and came away determined to find out more about what it does.  
As a school governor for many years, I’m familiar with the mantra about ‘Closing the Gap’ between the disadvantaged pupils in a school and the rest of the school cohort.    But I’ve heard far less said about the More Able, Gifted and Talented pupils within state schools, some of whom find their intellectual ability something of a handicap and definitely not ‘cool’ within their social environment.   Whilst many sixth-form pupils enjoying private education will go on to leading universities, expectations in many state schools are lower and pupils can be discouraged from applying to them. So I was intrigued by the Villiers Park concept.
To quote from its brochure, the Trust “helps students with high academic ability raise their aspirations and improve their attainment” through a Scholars Programme and an Inspiring Excellence Programme which instil within the pupils – many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds – the confidence to apply to the very best universities.   The Trust also helps schools adapt their current practice so that all students, including the most able, are stretched and challenged.
Having read as much information as I could find about Villiers Park, I visited the centre at the end of June.   Besides Richard Gould, I met two of the tutors who had just finished leading a week’s Creative Writing, one of the courses offered as part of the Inspiring Excellence programme.   Both were highly-qualified, passionate both about their subject and about education in general and had evidently made a huge impression on the 25 or so Year 12 pupils who’d come from state schools round the country to attend the course. I sat in on the course evaluation meeting in which each pupil described the impact of the week’s events.   The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
Impressed by what I’d seen and heard, I promised Richard that I would do what I could to get funding from some of the corporate contacts which I’d retained from my legal career.   Funding is reaching a critical point for the Trust which for many years was generously supported by the Baring Foundation.   However, the collapse some years ago of Barings Bank has led to that source of funding now coming to an end, so new financial backers are urgently needed.
I was delighted when Chrissy told me of the planned North Devon cycle ride in September in aid of Villiers Park and, all being well, I shall be there on my bike and hope that a decent sum can be raised for this excellent enterprise which was so dear to Mike’s heart.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this quite lengthy blog post. We will keep you updated in our quest to reach the fundraising target of £3,000. In the meantime, we hope you all enjoy your summer wherever you are.
Love to all,
Chrissy, Louise and Rachel


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