Romans on the march to raise cash for school

Sunderland Echo

Published Date:
08 September 2008


Sweet-tin soldiers Jeff Cowell and Graeme Ferry walked the Roman Wall to raise cash for their school.

The pair, who are both teaching assistants at Portland School, dressed as
Roman soldiers in fantastic costumes crafted out of chocolate tins by
Graeme and walked more than eight miles along Hadrian’s Wall.

Along with teacher, Ray Ross, the pair are setting up a Duke of Edinburgh
scheme for the children at the school, in Chapelgarth, Sunderland,
which caters for young people with severe learning difficulties.

Jeff said setting up the scheme and keeping it going over the years will
cost thousands of pounds, especially to buy all the outdoor equipment
needed.

He said: “The walk was brilliant. Everyone was stopping
and talking to us and lots of people wanted to have their photos taken
with us because we looked like real Roman soldiers.

“Graeme made every part of the costumes, including the shields and leather shoes.
The only things we bought were the helmets and swords.”

The pair are hoping to make the walk from Housesteads to Vindelanda an annual
event and next time will be getting smaller costumes to take some of
the children with them.

Ray said the young people are already
really excited about the prospect of taking part in the Duke of
Edinburgh Awards and the first set of children will be starting work
towards their bronze award this week.

He said: “It would be the most amazing achievement for them to get their Duke of Edinburgh Award.

“We need to challenge the young people, but to their own ability.

“We want to stretch them, so they get a big buzz out of the achievement.”

But Ray said the school will need to raise a lot of money to buy all the
equipment they need, including tents, sleeping bags, outdoor clothing,
walking boots and a whole host of camping gear.

With the Roman soldier walk and help and donations from The Blue Star Darts and Domino
League, the school taxi service, Slimming World, Portland staff and the
Halfway House pub, the teachers have raised £800 so far.

Jeff said: “People tend to think that special needs children get all the
cash they need, but that’s not always the case. We have to do a lot of
fund-raising for extra things.”
Anyone who would like to make a donation or who can help in some way should contact the school on 553 6050.

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