School Children Go the Extra Mile for Their Teacher

Tina Newman, a teacher at Sacred Heart School has praised her pupils after they took on a sponsored walk to raise funds for the charity that cared for her husband at the end of his life.

Tina is a Year 4/5 teacher and has worked at Sacred Heart since 2017. Earlier this year her husband, John, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and received specialist care and support at home from Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub South Oxfordshire before he died at the end of May aged 63.

“While John was ill I had quite a lot of time off work to care for him, which meant that my class missed out on their opportunity to do their annual fundraiser for the community,” explained Tina. “So when I returned I asked them if they wanted to turn a geography trip to Wittenham Clumps into a sponsored walk for Sue Ryder.

“They were so enthusiastic and they asked if we could do the walk in memory of John. Together we set up a fundraising page which we shared with the parents and every morning they couldn’t wait to log on and check the page for updates!”

The class of 33, aged between 8 and 10, set out on their charity expedition on Monday 11th July and completed a 6k route over the two hills before enjoying a well-earned picnic.

“It was a really hot day, and very emotional for me, but somehow it seemed effortless,” said Tina. “We were so focused and determined to get to the top – we kept using our phrase ‘do it for John’.”

Despite setting a fundraising target of £150, the intrepid fundraisers soon surpassed this and have now raised more than £1,000 for the palliative care hub, which provided Hospice at Home care to John in his final days.

“It was such an unknown and scary time, but the Sue Ryder Nurses always went above and beyond to support our family,” said Tina. “They visited us three times a day and even though it was only for two weeks, they built up such a rapport and it really felt like they had become part of our family.

“John was a proud man and they always treated him with dignity, while also taking the time to remember his interests and talk to him about the things he enjoyed. It was also the little things – like remembering our dog’s names and knowing when I needed a hug that meant so much. I can’t thank them enough for what they did.”

Tina explains that the support from her pupils, their parents and her colleagues has been invaluable while she is coming to terms with the loss of John, who she was married to for almost 35 years.

“I am so grateful to my head teacher, Rachel Gavin, and our parish priest, Father Paul, who supported me before, during and after John’s illness. I do not think I could have managed without them.

“The whole experience of doing this fundraising walk has been brilliant and the children have really helped me through a tough time. They have been so engaged and I am constantly amazed at what kind, compassionate and empathetic people they are.”

Meghan Bentley, Community Fundraiser at Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub South Oxfordshire, said: “A big thank you to Tina and her brilliant pupils for organising this special walk to support the palliative care hub in memory of John – they should be very proud of their achievement. The money raised will make a big difference in helping us to continue to be there when it matters for people going through the most difficult times of their lives.”

There is still time to donate to their fundraising page. Visit: justgiving.com/fundraising/WittenhamWalk

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