Grimsargh children raise funds for Thai orphans

Grimsargh St. Michael's Year 2 Teacher Helen Smith at the Farmers Market with Prisha Sivakumar and other pupils
Grimsargh St. Michael's Year 2 Teacher Helen Smith at the Farmers Market with Prisha Sivakumar and other pupils
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Greenfingered primary school pupils have been busy growing and marketing their own produce to raise funds for orphans overseas, furthering the link between their community and that of the Baan Tharn Namchai home in Southern Thailand.

The year twos at Grimsargh St Michael’s CE Primary School successfully grew and harvested green beans, tomatoes and marigolds which they then sold at their own Farm Shop - Farmers’ Market, held last week.

Parents and grandparents were invited along to buy, and the market was also boosted with further items to sell and prizes for a raffle, from Booths, Sainsburys, the Co-op, Ribble Farm Fare and the Thai Paragon Restaurant in Longridge; the raffle being drawn on Friday.

Year two teacher Helen Smith also provided items as did Sue Atkinson, wife of the school’s caretaker, through whom the Thai link has grown.

Pupils manned the stalls and were more than able to answer any questions of who they were raising the funds for, having hosted a recent second visit from their Thai friends in May.

Year two teacher Helen Smith described the market as “brilliant” explaining that because it was so hot, they invited everyone along a bit earlier than planned and also cut up fruit and vegetables for the children to buy as refreshing snacks, which went down well.

She said: “It was really, really good. It was buzzing and had a really good feel,” saying the link, started through a topic in which they had to compare Grimsargh to a constrasting place abroad had now become a whole cross curricular ‘project’ encompassing many aspects of learning.

Sue was a lifeflong friend of the late Allyson Parker (nee Crowther) - who grew up in Ribchester, later qualifying as a teacher before travelling the world and settling in Thailand. Sue went out to visit Allyson in February 2014 and it was on her return, when talking about the work of Baan Tharn Namchai, that Helen’s ears pricked up.

Helen said: “Sue told me about this friend with the orphans and we were looking to link with a school in a contrasting locality and I was more than happy for us to link because there was a common connection in Allyson, which just made sense.”

Allyson survived the 2004 Boxing Tsunami, then became involved in the setting up of the orphanage - which is currently home to 101 children from babies through to 20-year-olds - in the wake of the tragedy. Had illness not stepped in, Allyson expected to spend the rest of her life there, where she worked voluntarily.

Grimsargh St Michael’s has already helped the Thai home financially and when Allyson was receiving medical treatment here last year, the school was able to meet the lady who started the orphanage, Rotjana Phraesrithong and some of the children who came over to visit and also to see Allyson.

They then visited the school in May, combining being here for Allyson’s funeral, and Helen is determined Allyson’s legacy will live on through both children here and in Thailand.

She said recently: “I think it is really important the children understand how lucky they are to live here and life is not like that for everybody. Even though we are so far away we can help them, following the example of Jesus. We are a Christian school and it is about loving your neighbour,” adding: “I think it is really important to keep Allyson’s legacy alive and help the Thai children as she would have been if she was still here.”