Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
Chippenham school in plea for help with online contest
St Nicholas special school in Chippenham is hoping to change its pupils’ lives with the help of internet-savvy Gazette readers.
The school, which helps children with severe or complex learning disabilities, has entered national housebuilder Persimmon Homes’ competition to win a new house worth £250,000.
The competition, which is open to charities, has a top prize of the three-bedroom house in Andover, although the school can make the decision to sell it and use the money if they win.
Staff at St Nicholas now need help to claim the prize, with everyone who has access to a computer being asked to visit www.persimmonhomes.com/40 to vote for the school.
School governor Beverley Crone said St Nicholas desperately needs Gazette readers to help.
“We’re in the final 24 now, so even if we don’t win the house, we’ll take home £6,000 towards the school,” she said.
“But having a house would be so helpful for us. We’d like to use the money from the house to buy a property in Chippenham.
“For the last two years, we have rented a house in the town to teach sixth form students useful skills to take with them into their lives after school. “They can learn about shopping, going to the bank, how to cook – things that will help give them more independence. If we could buy a house outright in Chippenham, and not have the constant worry of rent, it would just be unbelievable. It would change lives.”
Children at the school may never be able to live independently, but Mrs Crone said learning essential life skills makes a huge difference to the older children.
“The transformation in these children when they learn this kind of thing is huge,” she said.
“Our budget has been slashed, and it’s making life difficult. We’re so short of money, and these kids really deserve the best possible opportunities.”
Head Jill Owen said the prize would mean the world to the school, which can take a maximum of 72 pupils from the ages of four to 19.
She said: “It’s so exciting, but nerve-wracking as well. If we were to win, it would be like a dream come true..”
St Nicholas was nominated by Stephen Woodley, whose son Samuel is new to the school.
Mrs Owen said: “I don’t want to tempt fate by thinking we will win, but it would mean we could use the house to help pupils learn everyday life and living skills, providing a true-to-life experience in a safe environment.
“The support we’ve had so far has just blown us away and we’re so grateful for everything everyone’s done. Now we’re calling on everyone we can to please vote for us.”
The overall winner will be announced at a glamorous lunch in London on September 27. Voting is free, and no personal details are required.