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World Record Donation to Mary's Meals

Painsley Catholic Academy has raised £120,000 for the global school feeding charity, Mary’s Meals, an amount that beats any other single donation from an academy.  The impressive donation is enough to feed almost 8,000 children for a whole school year through Mary’s Meals. 


Back at the start of the academic year in September 2019, the 15 schools within The Painsley Catholic Academy, pledged to raise £100,000 for their chosen charity, Mary’s Meals, in a campaign they called 20:20 for Mary.   


The aim was originally to meet this target by the end of the school year in July 2020.  Pupils and staff undertook a massive range of events including cake sales, sponsored silences, sponsored head-shaves, sky dives, mountain climbs, bike rides, car washes and porridge breakfasts.  


Since then, Covid has pretty much changed everything over the past 12 months.  Plans have had to be cancelled and put on hold and schools had to change how they operate completely.  Despite all the challenges that the schools have faced, the students, staff and parents have continued in their support of this charity, finding ever more inventive ways of raising the cash resulting in a fantastic outcome. 


Mr Steve Bell, Chief Executive Officer of The Painsley Catholic Academy commented, “Mary’s Meals is a very popular charity with our pupils.  It is a simple charity and that is what we like.   It costs just £15.90 to feed a child with Mary’s Meals for an entire school year. Research shows that children who eat Mary’s Meals: have more energy, feel healthier and happier, find it easier to concentrate and do better in school.  The school that we were raising funds for is Kafumphe Primary School, Dowa, Malawi; one of the world’s poorest countries where many families live through farming, but struggle to grow enough food.” Mr Bell continued, “Our pupils loved the thought that by raising just £15.90, they would enable a child to eat a nutritious meal every day and attend school for a whole year. However, then the pandemic began.  We realised that asking for sponsored events was not feasible, and on March 23rd 2020, our schools closed their doors to most pupils.  However, the children and staff were adamant that they wanted to continue their fundraising efforts.  The deadline for the target was extended until December 2020 with a view to raising as much as we could.  This determination was underlined by the fact that the Kafumphe Primary School also had to close and the pupils would potentially not receive any food.”  


During the pandemic, Mary’s Meals is providing children with food at home, until it is safe for them to return to the classroom. Parents and guardians collect the food from a central distribution point – observing all necessary hygiene and social distancing measures. Soap is distributed along with handwashing guidance to help support communities’ resilience to the virus.  


Gillian McMahon, Director of Supporter Engagement and Income at Mary’s Meals, said: “We never cease to be amazed by the creative and committed fundraising efforts of the pupils and schools who support our work. The amount raised by Painsley Catholic Academy is so impressive.  We are immensely grateful to everyone involved for their extraordinary fundraising efforts. This will help to transform the lives of children in Malawi so they receive nutritious meals, supporting them to feel healthier and happier and making it easier for them to concentrate in school. It’s clear that raising these funds have also proved life-changing in a different way for the pupils who took part, really demonstrating that so many little acts of kindness can make such a big difference.  One of the core values of Mary’s Meals is that the charity believes in the innate goodness of people.  There is no doubt that the pupils of The Painsley Catholic Academy have demonstrated this goodness.” 


Mr Bell adds, “More important than the value of the fundraising, are the values that the pupils have learned along this difficult journey at this seemingly impossible time.  We must look after each other regardless of where we live, our gender, our background, our colour, our faith.  We are one human race in this battle together.  The pupils, through their individual acts of kindness, will collectively be providing 7862 children with meals for a whole year.” 


The celebrations of this achievement have had to be low key due to the current restrictions.  However, the students who attend the schools within the academy, and the wider communities who have all played a part in the fundraising were delighted to receive a video thank you message from Founder and Global Chief Executive of Mary’s Meals, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow. 


In this video, Magnus says, “I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done, your incredible 20:20 for Mary campaign.  You’ve ensured that the children at Kafumphe Primary School can carry on eating, so on their behalf, I thank you with all my heart.”