Independent school awarded ‘Rose of Northamptonshire’ for incredible community spirit during pandemic

The school has been involved in activities such as a pen pal scheme between pupils and care home residents
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A Northamptonshire independent school has been awarded a ‘Rose of Northamptonshire’ for its continued commitment to community initiatives throughout the pandemic.

Winchester House School in Brackley, which caters for children aged three to 13, has taken on a number of activities in the last year, which have helped vulnerable members of the community during a difficult time.

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Winchester House students taking part in the 'flowers for friends' scheme.Winchester House students taking part in the 'flowers for friends' scheme.
Winchester House students taking part in the 'flowers for friends' scheme.

Emma McGowan, community relations manager at the school said: “We were honoured and delighted to be awarded the Rose of Northamptonshire Award by Northamptonshire County Council.

“Community values are at the heart of our school ethos and the importance of supporting community members, whether they be our families, staff, local businesses, Brackley clubs and societies, has never been more important.”

When care homes were advised to close their doors to visitors at the beginning of the pandemic, the ‘flowers for friends’ initiative was created by Winchester House School.

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Students and families gathered spring flowers from their gardens, which were donated to local care homes, doctors’ surgeries and assisted living residences.

One pupil posted his letter to his elderly pen pal.One pupil posted his letter to his elderly pen pal.
One pupil posted his letter to his elderly pen pal.

A pen pal scheme was also set up to help ease loneliness in the older generation and 35 children keep in touch regularly with care home residents.

Autumn cards were also sent to residents as well as pumpkins at Halloween, large hampers at Christmas and a special performance of ‘The Last Post’ outside the care home by the school’s trumpeter on November 11.

Emma added: “The extraordinary pooled efforts of all community members has been humbling, whether it be through our flowers for friends campaign, companion pen pal Scheme, sop local social media campaign or simply taking the children to sing carols outside Brackley care homes.

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“The school motto ‘Non Nobis Solum’ - Not for Ourselves Alone - remains firm and we look forward to working with the wider community over the months and years ahead to continue to make a difference.”

The McGowan family assembling face shields.The McGowan family assembling face shields.
The McGowan family assembling face shields.

Throughout the pandemic, the school minibus and a dedicated teacher also helped with the distribution of hundreds of food boxes for families in need across Brackley and head of Design Technology (DT) Martin Scouse spent 12 hours a day during Easter holidays making face shields when PPE shortages took hold.

More than 700 face shields were made and given to 25 hospitals, care homes, surgeries and charities.

During the festive season, the school also ran a virtual advent fair to support local businesses, as well as a ‘shop local’ social media campaign during the third lockdown.

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As vaccines are distributed, staff and pupils are looking forward to re-gathering the Brackley Community Dementia-Friendly choir when circumstances allow.

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