GeeWizz charity break news of £100,000 donation to academy
Students, teachers and parents from the Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy in Ipswich received the greatest gift of all on Monday - a donation of £100,000 to kick-start the development of a playground.
Ipswich businessman Guy Nicholls, owner of the TRU7 Group, visited the school along with Gina Long MBE, founder of GeeWizz Charity, based in Bury St Edmunds and her team to break the news to the unexpecting students, teachers and parents.
GeeWizz Charity had visited the school, who care for and educate 95 highly dependent vulnerable SEND’s children, in early November with a view to extending their support to the newly formed PTA who were hoping to fundraise over £200,000 for a new playground.
Gina took an idea for a major fundraiser to the organisers of the Ed Sheeran Made in Suffolk Exhibition, that would create a long-term legacy from the exhibition, which has been open to the public at Christchurch Mansion since summer and will close on May next year.
The exhibition has shed a global spotlight on Suffolk’s outstanding artistic creativity and heritage.
Gina contacted Mr Nicholls, in the hope of securing sponsorship from him and his company, for the major fundraiser which will be announced in January.
Captivated by the playground project that is to take place and benefit many children in his hometown, Mr Nicholls called Gina and announced he would like to pledge £100,000 to kick-start the project, plus use his business contacts and network to help with the groundworks, surfacing and equipment for the playground.
Mr. Nicholls said: “I am from Ipswich, my business is in Ipswich and we are very much Ipswich and Suffolk people. Having heard about the Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy playground and the fundraiser taking place in 2020, I felt compelled to give what will be a life-changing playground the financial kick-start this close to home project deserves.”
It is estimated that the redevelopment will cost around £250,000 to £300,000 and will be funded with 50 per cent of the proceeds from the Ed Sheeran Made in Suffolk Exhibition legacy fundraiser, taking place next year. The remaining proceeds from this event and fundraiser will fund rooms within St Elizabeth Hospice, that will be specifically designed for teenagers and young adults affected by cancer that the Zest Hospice supports.
"There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as the news was revealed," Mrs MacDougall, headteacher of Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy said, “Something that seemed like a dream and a million miles away for so long is now in sight, and I can’t thank you all enough.”
The new playground will allow the students to access not only a safe, engaging outside space at playtime, but also a sensory and stimulating outdoor learning environment. The changing cohort of students over the last 10 years has meant the current playground is not fully accessible for students, most of whom are wheelchair users.
Gina said: “Having met the 10 inspirational PTA mothers and their children, I left the school absolutely determined to help make the dream of a new playground a reality.
“For Guy Nicholls to so generously pledge the huge amount of £100,000, along with giving his expertise and other services is simply so overwhelming. It took several days for the news to sink in. He is literally going to help us at GeeWizz Charity change local lives.
“Guy has well and truly sprinkled a magical Christmas stardust over the Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy.”
More by this authorLaura Nolan