It was very lovely to hear that Sarah Wilson, an amazingly dedicated teacher at my son’s school, Fishergate Primary School, had been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to education during Covid-19.
Sarah is one of those people that seems to care much beyond her teacher role for the children, and their families, that she teaches.
It was a lovely surprise to be nominated, at the time our focus was very much on supporting our Fishergate family and local community.
During lockdown I regularly bumped into her, more often than not, outside a local shop or the school, along with someone dressed as Spiderman, collecting food for the York Foodbank. They chatted with local people and the groceries and toiletries started building up.
Her and Nick Shipley (Spiderman) were passionate about supporting more and more people with basic essentials, and their friendly banter will have brightened many a person’s day.
Behind the scenes Sarah was also working out how the school could continue to support the children entitled to free school meals over the summer break, knowing their school dinner was often their main opportunity for a nutritious daily meal.
And she knew that being away from school would be hard for many children and their parents, hard on their mental wellbeing, a scary and stressful time for so many people.
A keen runner, Sarah came up with a plan to run along every street her Early Years pupils lived, to give them a wave and brighten their day. At the same time she decided to fundraise for the Foodbank. She didn’t realise it would end up as 18 miles, though with a few marathons under her belt, it wasn’t unfeasible.
The run was inspired by our school’s annual Star Wars marathon, a high point of the year when all the children run a mile (or more) alongside staff and community members in aid of charity.
I had spoken to most families via telephone calls but with some children that wasn’t successful. Inspired by Spiderman’s marathon around Fulford, I plotted a route and managed to see around 100 children from Fishergate. An absolute highlight of lockdown for me!
Sarah ended up raising over £1,000 for York Foodbank and the run brought huge smiles, encouraging banners and a sense of ‘being in it together’ for the children and their families.
Half way through her lockdown activism, the footballer Marcus Rashford managed to persuade the Government to extend the Meal Voucher Scheme into the summer holidays. His petition continues to put pressure on the Government to carry this on through the October half term and the Christmas holidays.
For Sarah feeding families remains a priority, and she is in awe of the local Foodbank in York .
The local Foodbank in York is amazing and their staff and volunteers provide an invaluable service to the community.
Marcus Rashford’s work on extending the voucher scheme is ongoing, the increase in Foodbank use this decade and during the pandemic is shocking given that we are a relatively well off nation.