Students take a trip of a lifetime

27th November 2017

Five school students from Eden were able to join their friends for a once in a lifetime trip to play rugby in South Africa.

The youngsters, who all attend Ullswater Community College, could take part in the two-week adventure, thanks to £3,500 awarded to their school’s charity fund from the Dora Beeforth Memorial Fund, Edmond Castle Educational Trust, Fryer Grassroots Fund and Strummer Calling Community First Fund.

The money was used help the students from low-income families join 41 of their peers on the trip in July 2016. The college has its own charity hardship fund, where it raises funds to help young people go on trips they might otherwise not be able to afford, however due to the floods in December 2015, they found it very difficult to raise enough money.

The trip was designed to broaden horizons and develop aspirations for further travel and achievement, as well as encourage the youngsters to continue education beyond the age of 16.

The students were able travel to a very different continent and experience vastly different cultures. The trip increased their understanding of issues such as institutionalised racism, poverty, abuse of power and the strength of the human spirit, not to mention forgiveness and reconciliation. They visited South Africa’s largest township, Soweto, where they gave rugby strips to the children, had a traditional lunch at the Lesedi Cultural Village, and went on a 4×4 guided game tour of the Mabula Reserve.

Simon Cooper, Fundraising Co-ordinator, said: “The students learned to live ‘cheek by jowl’ with others under difficult circumstances, developing the ability to not only tolerate but support, encourage and motivate each other into exceeding their expectations.

“As the tour progressed they grew noticeably as young men during the visit, regularly drawing compliments from a variety of hosts due to their conduct, manners and positivity.

“Since returning, one of the students, who benefitted from the grant, has enjoyed improved motivation and grades at school, he’s also joined Penrith Rugby Club and has continued a passion for photography which he developed during the visit.”

This was the fourth visit the college had made to South Africa, and every student who has taken part has been left with a lasting impression and increased desire to travel, as well as an understanding of different cultures, giving them the determination to succeed at school.