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School’s sprinting Santas run up cash for hospice

Southlands principal Andrew Simmons starts the Santa dash for Oakhaven Hospice
Southlands principal Andrew Simmons starts the Santa dash for Oakhaven Hospice

YOUNGSTERS spread some Christmas cheer with their own Santa Dash to raise funds for Oakhaven Hospice.

Southlands School, a specialist residential site near Lymington, caters for children with autism, many of whom have found lockdown difficult.

Staff wanted to give pupils a little bit of festive joy so organised a week of Christmas activities – which culminated in the sponsored run around the school site.

As reported in the A&T, due to the pandemic Oakhaven was unable to stage its traditional annual Santa Dash through Lymington this year, and instead appealed to fundraisers to hold their own – a challenge which Southlands accepted.

Around 50 youngsters aged between seven and 19 took part with several members of staff. It was followed by a buffet for the whole school.

Principal Andrew Simmons said: “I have been at Southlands for over 25 years. It is a school that takes pride in supporting each and every student to achieve their personal best.

“When the first national lockdown was announced we had to react quickly to reassure our students, parents and the external professional services that we could continue to meet the needs of our student cohort.

“I could not be more proud of how our students have coped in these challenging and anxiety-provoking times.”

He added: “It is without a doubt that without the commitment from the whole staff team at Southlands, we would not have been able to provide a little bit of normality here in our Southlands bubble.

“Our staff team made sacrifices with their own families to continue to provide the structure, care and education for the students at Southlands.”

Rebecca Sheen, school transition manager, said: “Although Southlands is a small school, we recognise the importance of raising money for a wide range of charities throughout the school year.

“To be able to raise money for such a wonderful organisation as Oakhaven and dress up at the same time has been a really joyous occasion for the school.

“Helping our local community as they help us by providing wonderful work experience placements and opportunities for our students is just a small thank you.”

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