IT is hard to imagine the Victorian poet Robert Browning or indeed the singer-songwriter Clifford T Ward waxing lyrical about muddy playing fields yet for last year’s Wallace High Deputy Head Boy, Mark Wells, these are cherished memories.
Mark is currently on a gap year in Brazil and was a recipient of a Gillespie scholarship from Wallace High.
These scholarships were generously donated by a former Prize Day speaker, Dr Alan Gillespie, to encourage Wallace students to spend at least six months in a third world country.
Mark is serving with a PAIS team (Pais is Greek for service) in a town called Natal. The team forms a bridge between churches and the local schools. The charity’s November newsletter describes Mark as “the team’s resident European heartthrob” with an “unassuming calm nature and captivating voice”, qualities which his fellow former pupils would recognise.
Evaluating the experience so far Mark said: “Since arriving in Brazil I have learnt more about myself and the world around me than I ever thought I could. I have met wonderful people, learnt a new language and a new culture and experienced the love and care of the people of this beautiful country. The support given me by the school (financial and otherwise) has made a huge difference not only in my life but also in the lives of students here in Brazil.”
Foreign fields are also beckoning for a group of Wallace sixth formers. The Habitat for Humanity team, led by teachers Laura Topley, Steven Alexander and Matthew Glenn will head to Mulanje, Malawi for two weeks in late June/early July.
In keeping with Wallace’s tradition of encouraging a spirit of generosity, the students have committed to a major fundraising campaign for the charity, which aims to eliminate housing poverty and homelessness.
Each student is individually responsible for raising funds and must also participate in events the team organise. To date almost £7,000 has been raised with almost £4,000 coming from festive bag–packing.
The team braved the checkouts in branches of Tesco and Sainsburys just before Christmas and were rewarded by the good-will of local shoppers.
Teacher Matthew Glenn said: “It was just non-stop at the cash registers and we have certainly learnt a little about Christmas eating patterns. We want to offer sincere thanks to both the supermarkets for the great opportunity to raise money on prime shopping dates. We also want to thank all the people who so freely gave us donations and who showed a genuine interest in the project. Their kindness is going to help our young people make a real difference to others overseas.”
The team also gained funds via some impromptu carol singing around the classrooms of Wallace by the school’s junior choir Cantabile.
Further events are in the planning stage but the team leaders are delighted with their current totals.