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Late in the evening on Monday 31 March, an unusual scene was witnessed at the School: a group of 50 pupils, dressed scruffily and carrying sleeping bags, set themselves down on the main quadrangle and refused to move for the night. What was this? Had the boarding house staff simply become fed up with their charges and turfed them out for the night? Or was it an organised sit-in to protest against being given too much work, or even a takeover of the School reminiscent of scenes ofIf? Why, too, were the pupils aided and abetted by seven teachers, who were perhaps the ringleaders of this outrageous dare?
In fact, the event was the sponsored “Sleep out on the Quad”, in which pupils and staff valiantly braved the elements without tents to raise money for the School’s main charity project, the St John’s School Community Holiday. This August, the School will open up its facilities and boarding houses to enable 20 children with significant learning disabilities to experience a holiday independently from their families. A team of 24 St John’s pupils, supported by experienced adult volunteers, will become full-time carers for an entire week, 24 hours a day. Supported by Oundle School Mencap, the children being hosted will have the opportunity to take part in a full in-house programme that will include drama and music events, swimming and sports, as well as farm and seaside trips. The week-long residential stay in the beautiful surroundings will offer the children both new experiences and friends, whilst simultaneously giving their families and carers some much-needed rest.
According to initial figures, the sleep out has raised just over £5,000 towards the Community Holiday, which is over a third of the total estimated cost. Despite being exhausted, then, the following morning there was a resounding satisfaction from all those who had taken part as they ate a hearty breakfast.
‘It had indeed rained and, much as the warm spring air had arrived, it seemed to have vacated the Quad for that one particular night!’ (Mrs Fowler, organiser).
‘It was fun and a worthwhile cause, as they are going to have so much fun on the holiday.’ (Chloe Gardner, Hope Macmillan and Isabelle Hammersley, Fourth Form, Haslewood House)
'I stayed out the whole night in the rain.’ (Ruby Breakspear Fourth Form, South House)
‘It was very relaxed and really fun, everyone joined in.’ (Emma Sinclair, Fourth Form, Gloucester House)
‘Never have I appreciated my bed so much.’ (Ben Whybrow, Lower Sixth, Surrey House)
‘It was an enriching experience!’ (Mimi Adeboya, Lower Sixth, South House)
‘Turns out falling asleep to the sound of the rain is really infuriating – but it was a great thing to do for a good cause.’ (James Long, Lower Sixth, West House)
‘I would do it again!’ (Elena Ferguson, Lower Fifth, Haslewood House)
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