Young people and staff are celebrating at Park School in Kilmarnock after a mysterious benefactor secured the future of their Duke of Edinburgh awards for the next two years.
Sports writer, Graham Speirs, had kick started a fundraising campaign for the school last month. He asked his Twitter followers to help raise £3000 to allow the school to deliver Bronze, Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh awards to all pupils.
After just four days a very simple message was posted on Park School’s fundraising page – ‘I hope this does it. Best John Bennett’ along with a donation of £5000.
Headteacher Carol-Anne Burns said: “Mr Bennett’s generosity took our breath away, we all felt absolutely overwhelmed when we saw his donation. He isn’t a parent or known to the school, so it really did come out of the blue.
“Our pupils are aged between 5 years and 18 years and have additional support needs. Duke of Edinburgh provides our pupils with valuable experiential learning but also helps to encourage independence and resilience that can be life changing for many young people.
“This funding will allow the school to provide all pupils with the opportunity to experience the Duke of Edinburgh awards. We can now provide essential equipment and plan exciting expeditions that will challenge our young people.
“Thank you to Mr Bennett, Graham Spiers, Graham’s friend Alistair McMenemy who donated £1000 and everyone who has donated money to Park School, you have made a real difference to the lives of our pupils.”
Graham Spiers said: “I am amazed by the power of Twitter. Being a football columnist in the west of Scotland, I’ve had my fair share of half-cranks and obsessives on my case down the years. The abuse that guys like me get on Twitter can be quite phenomenal.
“But the truth is, there are also a lot of interesting, decent and caring people out there who respond to something like this. Last year a school in Glasgow also had its pupils’ activities saved by a Twitter appeal similar to this. So, for all that social media is sometimes maligned, it also has a habit of bringing out the best in humanity.
“I’m dead chuffed for Park School. A friend of mine is a teacher there and I know the work and devotion that goes in to teaching these kids. It is no more than the school deserves. Plus, the generosity of the donors cannot be over-estimated.”