Chippenham students trying hard for Hannah

This Is Wiltshire: Gold medal winner Amy Williams hands over the cheque to Christine Lamb in memory of Hannah Owen	       (31955/08) Gold medal winner Amy Williams hands over the cheque to Christine Lamb in memory of Hannah Owen (31955/08)

Students at Sheldon School in Chippenham have been working hard to bring festive cheer to sick children, in memory of a classmate.

Hannah Owen died last December aged 13, and since then her friends have dedicated themselves to raising money for Christmas trees for the Helen and Douglas House Hospice in Oxford, where Hannah spent her final days.

Hannah’s tutor, Rob Faulkner, said: “Hannah was a pupil of mine who, on the year she started at school, was diagnosed with cancer.

“She fought hard against the illness having numerous treatments and at times returned to school trying desperately to lead a normal school life. She loved every aspect of school, but unfortunately the cancer kept on coming back.

“In December last year we received the sad news that her last treatment was unsuccessful and that Hannah didn’t have much time left.”

Hannah spent her final days in the hospice, and as Christmas was her favourite time of year her family did their best to brighten up her room with lots of decorations and a Christmas tree.

Mr Faulkner said: “To her parents’ surprise there was only one other small tree in the hospice and this was located in the entrance.

“After Hannah passed away they decided to set up the charity Hannah’s Trees to thank the hospice for all the care shown to Hannah and the many other children there.

“The charity intends to provide every room at the hospice with a small Christmas tree and decorations each year so they, like Hannah, can share just a little bit in the festive season.

“To do this we need to raise £500 each year. In addition to this we would also like to raise enough money but buy and plant a Christmas tree in the school grounds in memory of Hannah, which will be decorated each year at Christmas.”

This year students have carried out fundraising activities including cake and pancake sales, car washing and ‘do a job at home week’, smashing their £500 target to raise more than £1,750.

The charity has secured a plot of land in Wales to grow its own Christmas trees, and it is hoped the service will be rolled out to the other 14 hospices in the UK.

* Hundreds of students at Sheldon School took part in the annual Olympic Day Run on Friday to celebrate the founding of the International Olympic Committee.

Winter Olympics skeleton bob gold medallist Amy Williams, from Bath, visited the school and and spoke about her experiences.

A school spokesman said: “The Olympic Day Run takes place in 172 countries world wide and there are three events in Britain, which we are one of at Sheldon. Our run is the largest taking place in Great Britain and the biggest school event in the world, so we are making history.

“It was great to have Amy Williams in to talk to the students and I think she really inspired them.”

Sheldon’s run was part of an international Olympic movement, which invites people to celebrate Olympic Day. The event was launched in 1987 and in 2009, the IOC decided to make the Olympic Day Run into a worldwide event.

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