[W]indermere School’s very own Bond, Andy Bond, has raised almost £2500 by leaping out of a plane flying at 12,500 feet.
The Reception and Pre-School Teacher decided to take up the challenge following a visit to South Africa last August, where he met the children who attend the Thussanang Disabled Centre. This wonderful facility is situated in the township of Huhudi, just south of Vryburg, and is a place for disabled children in the area to feel safe and cherished.
Says Andy Bond; “In August last year, I travelled out to Vryburg with a colleague of mine and a group of sixth form students from Windermere School, to begin a very exciting project, one of which I am immensely proud to have been a part .
“The Thussanang Centre is a marvellous and inspiring place and I very quickly realised how much it means to everyone there. Stepping from the minibus into a sea of smiles, hugs and handshakes is an experience I will never forget.”
For the last fourteen years, Windermere School has been going out to Vryburg to join forces with another school, Tiger Kloof, to work on various service projects. From chopping vegetables to be used to make bone soup for township children, to working in clinics with children born with HIV, the projects have been numerous and certainly diverse, but one project in which the school has always been involved is the Thussanang Disabled Centre.
In the eight months leading up to August, a team comprising staff and students from Windermere School has been exploring ways to make a real difference to the children who attend the Centre, as well as to the dedicated team of volunteers who work there. The team took on the huge task of planning, preparing, resourcing, delivering and evaluating a scheme of work which would allow the children to develop a set of skills, allowing them to play a meaningful role in their own communities. This planning became a reality in the Summer.
Continues Mr. Bond; “Working alongside the volunteer teachers at Thussanang, we put our plans into action. It was emotional, but what a fantastic experience, watching every single child who attends this amazing facility grow in confidence and make real progress, learning essential, transferable skills.
“However, we are aware that this is only the start of the journey. We want to be able to ensure that these children have the resources to be able to continue with their learning, and hopefully, through this, we can make a real difference to their lives.
“We have shared all of our plans with the staff and volunteers at the Centre and hope that we can find the money to train the volunteer teachers at Thussanang, giving them the skills which would allow them to be paid for their hard work, something which will not only benefit the children who attend the Centre, but also the teachers’ families.
“We are aiming to raise £25,000 over the next two years, and having visited the Centre, I knew I had to do something, so I decided to jump out of a perfectly good plane! What better way to raise money for such a fantastic cause?”
Andy’s skydive was organised by Skydive NorthWest in Flookburgh, one of the longest established centres in the UK, having provided skydiving experiences for over forty years. It is also considered one of the most picturesque skydiving centres in the world, boasting spectacular views of the Lake District, Lake Windermere and Morecambe Bay. However, the views were not something Andy spent much time admiring, as he explains:
“It was nerve-wracking, but amazing. As soon as the plane starts racing along the runway, you know there’s no going back. I’m sure the views are fantastic, but to be honest you just get lost in your thoughts as the plane goes higher and higher, as you wait for the light to turn from red to green. But I’m so glad I’ve done it. Free-falling for forty-five seconds, reaching speeds of 140mph, is an experience I won’t forget quickly. And the money raised certainly makes it all worthwhile, so a huge thankyou to all of those who have sponsored me.”
Jo Parry, who is Deputy Head (Pastoral) at Windermere School, and who has been involved with the Tiger Kloof projects since they began in 2004, was full of praise for Mr. Bond; “Andy is not known for being an adrenaline junkie, which makes his effort for Thussanang all the more amazing. Leaping out of a plane two and a half miles up takes some courage, but what a fitting way to raise money to help such courageous children, who have experienced adversity throughout their lives. We are calling this fundraising initiative ‘Holding Hands with Thussanang’ and are planning many more fundraising events, hoping to get closer and closer to the magical figure of £25,000. Andy’s jump has certainly helped.”