Sunderland pupils raise hundreds of pounds for veterans by making and selling wooden toy soldiers

Pupils at Thornhill Academy have been making toy wooden soldiers to sell and have raised hundreds of pounds for the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI), a non profit organisation which helps veterans in need.

The wooden soldiers were made by the school’s technology leaders and have been sold to staff and people in the local community with the initiative having raised £200 so far.

Pupils involved in the project hope the money can be used to provide a free Christmas lunch for some of the city’s veterans, something they also did last year.

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Head of Design Technology, John Miller, said: “A lot of pupils at the school have parents who are in or have been in the forces and they wanted to do something to help. It’s the second year we have run this project and we have already smashed the £150 we raised last year.”

Teacher Siobhan Mills, who also volunteers at NAAFI, said: “This is fantastic organisation which provides a support network and care for our veterans who may be having difficulties, and it helps to bridge that gap between service and civilian life.”

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Some of the remaining soldiers were on display as part of the schools Armistice Day commemoration.

Technology leader Liam Robson, 14, said: “It’s really important to remember the sacrifices soldiers have made and it feels good to be helping out the charity. I have really enjoyed the project.”

Pupils Robert Edwards, 15, Thakylya Islam, 14 and Liam Robson, 14, with the wooden soldiers they made, alongside teacher Siobhan Mills

Fellow leader Thakylya Islam, 14, added: “It’s important to give something back to the Armed Forces and it’s great the money raised from these wooden soldiers will help veterans and their families.”

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The commemorative ceremony also saw pupils lay some of the poppy wreaths they had made, the display of a giant dove with poppies making up its tail, a moving rendition of the war poem ‘For the Fallen’, and and a moment of reflection following the sounding of the Last Post.

Two of the wreaths were laid by Ella Gardiner, 15, and Hollie Poulton, 13.

Hollie said: “I was really proud to lay my wreath which had the message ‘we will remember them’. It’s important to remember those who died to make our lives better.”

Some of the pupils at Thornhill Academy who took part in their Armistice Day ceremony. (Left to right) Ella Gardiner, Ismael Ali, Luke Leary, Hollie Poulton and Harley Lockerbie.
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Ella added: “It’s important we learn about the lessons of war from the past. I found the ceremony very emotional as these people fought to allow us to have the freedom we do today.”

A number of children at the ceremony were also in military uniform as part of their involvement with local cadet groups.

Seaburn cadet, Luke Leary, 12, said: “My uncle was in the army and so I think it is really important we remember all those in the Armed Forces as without them our lives would probably be very different.”

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Headteacher Sue Hamilton said: “The Armistice Day ceremony is a big part of our tradition her at Thornhill. We all need to remember the sacrifices made as our lives would be very different had it not been for them. It’s also important to remember those who have lost their lives in the conflicts which are still going on today.”