25 June 2019
The Community Action Celebration Evening for Year 12 annually recognises the enormous contribution that Bolton School students make to the wider Bolton community through their volunteering efforts.
Mr Mark Chilton, Bolton School Boys’ Division Assistant Head of Sixth Form, welcomed everyone and pointed out that, on the same day as the Celebration, a team of Sixth Form students had been in London for the national final of the Goldsmiths’ Company Community Engagement Awards, where they showcased the School’s strong links with the local community and extensive volunteering activities. This follows on from Bolton School’s receipt of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2017 as an acknowledgement of pupil and staff community action involvement. Mr Chilton reminded the assembled audience that, in continuing Lord Leverhulme’s legacy of giving back, pupils today gain a better understanding of the world around them as well as developing valuable skills.
He then handed over to six Year 12 students so that they could share their volunteering experiences. Rachel Care, Sharon Daniel, Amelia Doherty, Aleena Hussain, Yusef Patel and Thomas Whitehead talked about helping in residential and respite care homes for the elderly and disabled adults, getting involved with regional heritage projects with Bolton Library and Museum Service, volunteering with World Challenge and to support veterans’ charities, teaching children to play musical instruments and involvement with National Citizen Service (NCS).
Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards were then presented to students by the evening’s guest speaker, Chairman of Governors Mr Michael Griffiths, and the two Heads of Sixth Form, Mr Jack Williams and Mrs Catherine Winder. This year, students provided 10,637 hours of voluntary service, with 86% of Year 12 completing more than 20 hours of volunteering. A total of 29 students received Gold Awards for logging more than 100 hours. Five students achieved over 200 hours of volunteering across the year, and Sharon Daniel completed an incredible 456 hours.
Once students had received their Awards, Mr Griffiths took the podium to deliver a thoughtful address.
He began with a comment he recently heard from a Year 11 student, “The whole community gains from volunteering.” His earliest experience of volunteering as an 11-year-old wolf cub (now known as cub scouts) demonstrated this well. He helped to clear an orchard of apple trees and, though the work was harder than expected in early December, he remembers that there were benefits all round: the scouts had fun, the farmer had his field cleared, and the local elderly residents received firewood. He commented that growing up in the 1950s there was a strong community spirit, from his parents who were involved in volunteering to the wolf cub promise to help others. He therefore assumed that volunteering was something that everyone does, and this belief was confirmed when he arrived at Bolton School as a pupil.
He recently looked back at reports held the School Archives, another example of voluntary work carried out by Governor Eric Fairweather, and pointed out that there is a record going back to 1893 of Girls’ Division pupils helping with the Bolton Girls’ Recreation Club, which later became part of Bolton Lads and Girls’ Club (BLGC), and the Boys’ Division magazines are littered with frequent references to that same organisation. He said, “The club is now celebrating its 130th anniversary and, it seems, Bolton School has been helping in some way for pretty much all of its existence.”
Mr Griffiths went on to explain that volunteering has continued throughout his adult life, saying: “Once you have ‘the bug’ you never leave it.”
He shared some anecdotes from a year with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) immediately after leaving school: a challenging and exciting experience which took him to the Solomon Islands. He said that VSO was and is still a great opportunity for voluntary work to make a real difference, which he would recommend. After his return to the UK, he became the Scout District Commissioner in the early 1980s and this led, in 1986, to him becoming a Governor of Bolton School. 33 years later, and after being appointed Chairman of Governors in 2007, he is still here, though he will retire from the post at the end of 2019. In more recent times, he has returned to the Solomon Islands to help with a project attempting to eradicate malaria.
He said that a theme in his volunteering activities has been to return to the communities he was involved with in his youth to give back, enabling the next generation to thrive. He concluded that from a personal view, he has found volunteering to be enjoyable and satisfying, and hopes that he has made a positive impact.
Finally, he commented that the young people attending the Celebration have already made a difference for good in their local communities, and encouraged them to continue to do so.
Girls’ Division Headmistress Sue Hincks brought the event to a close with further congratulations to all of the students who received awards and thanked those members of staff who were involved with assisted them in achieving their volunteering goals.