Countdown to Columbo

Posted on 28 Aug 2008

A local teacher’s dream to take her pupils on a volunteering trip to South Asia before she is due to retire, has come true.

Thanks to continuous fundraising efforts from both pupils and teachers at Eston Park School on Burns Road in Middlesbrough and sponsorship from the local business community, Pauline Franklin, head of maths, will be embarking on an 18-day trip to Sri Lanka at the end of this month.

Initially, Pauline, who has worked at the school for the past 22 years and is due to retire at the end of this month, was keen to take the 15 to 20-year old pupils from Year 11 on a trip to Africa, but due to complications the location changed to Sri Lanka.

“When we found out that is was going to be feasible to take the pupils to Sri Lanka, the next task was to raise enough money to fund the trip,” said Pauline.

“Because we wanted each pupil to be given the opportunity to come, we decided the only way to do it would be to fund the entire trip ourselves.”

The fundraising efforts started last October and within eight months enough money was raised to take 18 pupils on the trip of a lifetime.

When staff at local motor dealer, JenningsFord, heard that the school was looking for various sponsors, they were delighted to assist with a donation towards the cost of the trip.

Alan Bailes, general commercial manager at JenningsFord’s Commercial Centre in Middlesbrough, said; “Over the years we have established a good working relationship with Eston Park School, having supplied a number of mini-buses.”

“We were delighted to assist with the trip and would like to wish Mrs Franklin a very happy retirement and both her and the pupils a very enjoyable trip.”

Throughout their stay, the pupils will spend time with children at a school from the deprived area of Columbo. Teaching English, playing fun but educational games with the children and decorating the school to make it bright and cheerful, are just a few items on the busy itinerary.

Thanks to today’s technology a line of communication between Sri Lanka and Middlesbrough will be available on a daily basis via a laptop and the school’s website www.eston_park_school@redcar.cleveland.gov.uk

Pauline added; “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our pupils who will be able to experience a completely different culture.”

“We’re all counting the days down.”

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