“WOW WOW WOW!” This was Reverend Allcock’s reaction at the end of a superb celebratory assembly given by the boys of St Philip’s and St George’s Houses to start their charity day. Incredibly the boys have already raised over £10,000 towards the St Martin’s Youth Centre in the heart of the Highgate area of Birmingham. Reverend Allcock is both Chair of the charity and a Governor at Blue Coat. He explained that St Martin’s-in-the-Bullring, where he is Rector, was the ‘mother Church’ of Birmingham, and St Philip’s is affectionately known as her ‘daughter Church’. Indeed, the association between Blue Coat and St Martin’s goes back many, many years so it is fitting that their youth centre has been nominated as one of the charities we are supporting throughout our tercentenary year.

The boys along with Bridget Cameron, also representing the charity, gave a fascinating insight into the history of the charity. It was set up in 1957 to provide a safe and happy place for local young people. It offers them friendship and compassion, trusted adults to talk to and a myriad of activities, including crafting, cooking, camping and outdoor adventures. Currently they provide this for teenagers but in the past they used to welcome young children to the ‘Penny Club’ for after school activities too. Life-long bonds are formed, and we heard about a new Mum who has just completed her degree and is training to be a social worker as well as a former member of the Penny Club who was a perpetual truant at school but who is now an eminent barrister at Lincoln Inn Fields, London. These examples just go to show the importance of the many small charities throughout the UK like St Martin’s Youth Centre in enabling disadvantaged young people to reach their potential.

The money raised by the boys of St Philip’s and St George’s will help to fund summer holiday schemes (including a camping trip to Malvern) and the hope is to extend these to weekend provision too. It will also go towards the refurbishment of their kitchens, to enable more children to learn to cook.

We heard about the wide and interesting variety of ways in which the boys have raised money with their £5 challenge. Have a look here:

  • A team swimathon where each boy swam the equivalent of the length of the Channel
  • Making cards and jewellery
  • Baking for cake sales
  • A ‘neon walk’, from the new to the old Blue Coat School site
  • Drawing caricatures
  • Competitions like guess the number of sweets in the jar
  • Making paper baskets with flowers
  • Plenty of chores and car washing – I’m sure the parents are delighted!

The boys will be selling sweets and goodies at break times (and have warned the children to pace themselves and make sure they still eat their lunch!) followed by a cake sale after school.

Well done all of you, you have done yourselves as well as Mr Hill and Mrs Stockton proud, and you have made a direct difference to the lives of young people in our city.