In July, twelve pupils from Oundle School, led by teachers Andrew Martens and Lily Davies-Evitt, visited charities in Nongoma, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. They were accompanied by Howard Smedley, founding member of the Oundle charity, Nongoma Friendship, which hosted the trip.
Nongoma Friendship was formed in 2011 with the aim of forging a link between the communities of Oundle and Nongoma, a rural settlement in Kwazulu-Natal. Since then, the charity has done much to help disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Nongoma, mainly through the Bhekanani Community Care and Support Centre.
In preparation for the trip, the Oundle pupils fundraised on behalf of the charity and doubled their original target with a total of £10,000 for Nongoma Friendship.
They spent a week helping out at Bhekanani Centre with their Food For Learning programme, which provides daily meals and support for over eighty vulnerable children. Many of these children come from families severely affected by HIV/AIDS.
Trip organiser and teacher, Andrew Martens commented, “Getting to know and making friends with these children was a truly life-changing experience for the Oundle pupils. The pupils also travelled around the district of Nongoma, meeting disadvantaged families as well as people in the community who are actively involved in local charity work.”
The trip ended with visits to the Imfolozi and Isimangaliso National Parks, learning about South Africa's spectacular wildlife.
Pupil, William Brettle (17) commented, “Our time in Nongoma provided an invaluable insight into the way the people of Kwazulu-Natal lead their lives. It was rewarding to see the enormous difference our fundraising has made, whether through the Bhekanani feeding centre or through regular food parcels to those most impoverished. Nonetheless, the evident delight we saw in those we visited was memorable, and their generosity towards us, particularly given their difficult circumstances, was moving. All in all, the trip was very rewarding, as well as great fun, perfectly finished off with a safari and visit to the coast.”
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. The School is now embarking on a large SciTec Campus development project which will see a new Mathematics department constructed adjacent to SciTec as well as a significant upgrade to the Design and Technology department within the Patrick Engineering Centre. Due for completion in September 2016, the development will unite Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, enabling pupils to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of a workable technology. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion which opened in April 2015.
There are currently 1100 pupils on roll at Oundle School, with 850 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11.