Grateful gran's bingo-style event raises thousands of pounds for Sunderland school

A devoted grandmother has raised more than £6,500 for a Sunderland school to show her appreciation for everything they have done for her granddaughter.

Friday, 14th December 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 9:53 am
Sunningale School fundraiser organised by Paula Lay, grandmother of Tiana Johnson, 5 and mother Leigh Johnson (R)

Paula Lay says her granddaughter, five-year-old Tiana Johnson - who has global late development, epilepsy and agenesis of the corpus callosum - has come on “immensely” since starting at Sunningdale School.

The huge bingo-style fundraiser, called the Dabber Dance, raised much-needed funds for the school through a fundraising group called Tiana’s Troopers - led by Paula.

Paula Lay and Tiana

The grandmother-of-three said: “The event was to say thank you for everything they do and show how fabulous the school is.

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“Tiana has come on so well since she started and I don’t think the school doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

“The staff are fabulous and the one to one care that Tiana receives has helped her come on so much.”

The sell-out event at Rainton Meadow Arena raised £6,707.48 which has gone towards buying two specialised bikes, a specialised computer for the sensory room and sensory equipment and toys for the school in Springwell.

Mum Leigh Johnson, Tiana Johnson, 5 and Paula Lay

It took Paula, 51, around seven months to plan and saw more than 130 donations for prizes made by businesses and the community.

“The support has been unbelievable,” said Paula. “I’d given myself a good seven months so I could have a big event and there is just too many people to thank.

“I want to thank everyone who made donations and Rainton Meadow Arena for letting us use the venue free of charge.”

Children aged between two and 11 with severe and multiple learning difficulties including autism attend the Sunningdale School.

Sunningale School deputy headteacher James Waller receives funds from former pupil Ricky Graham from fundraiser organised by Paula Lay, grandmother of Tiana Johnson, 5.

Headteacher Celia Wright said: “We are really grateful of Paula and all our fundraisers at Sunningdale.

“They enable us make a real difference to what we can offer the children and buy specialised equipment.

“We provide fundraisers with a list of much-needed resources and Paula and her fundraisers were able to pick equipment.

“We’re very well supported by groups, businesses and parents.

“I can’t thank them enough they put so much time and effort in.”

Plans are already under way to host another event next October as Paula hopes to make it an annual fundraiser.

“Everyone had a fantastic time and I’m really looking forward to next year’s event,” added Paula.