Pupils run ‘from Burnley to Bethlehem’ to help the homeless

Olivia Swift, of St Mary Magdalene's RC Primary School, Burnley, organised a running event to raise �3000 for Emmaus. Photo Neil Cross

Olivia Swift, of St Mary Magdalene's RC Primary School, Burnley, organised a running event to raise �3000 for Emmaus. Photo Neil Cross

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A little girl’s dream to help homeless people in the town where she lives has come true.

Olivia Swift wanted to do more to help and when she mentioned this to her teachers at St Mary Magdalene’s RC Primary School in Burnley where she is a Year 5 pupil, they decided to do something about it.

Over a five week period the school created its own Run Back to Jesus challenge to raise almost £3,000 for the Emmaus homeless charity in Burnley.

The run was the idea of headteacher Mrs Julie Frazer and Sports Coach Mr Richard Johnson and the aim was to complete 2,390 laps of the school which is the distance from Burnley to Bethlehem.

Key stage two children ran three laps over a five week period and key stage one pupils clocked up one lap around the school in Wellfield Drive.

There were a couple of falls and collisions but every child in the school completed the challenge and staff also took part, raising their own money separately.

Mr Johnson said: “We managed to raise £2,863 which is a staggering amount and something we never dreamed we could achieve. I want to congratulate the children and staff for their magnificent efforts and also thank parents and everyone who sponsored us.

“Everyone should be very proud of themselves,”

A special thank you was also given to Year 6 pupil Kai Hartley who raised £135, the highest total in the school.

James Balderstone, who works for Emmaus, went along to the school to receive the cheque and he spoke to the children about the work the charity does and how their money can help.

The children heard how the charity was launched locally in 2011 with former Burnley MP Mr Peter Pike spearheading it as it wa a project he had wanted to create in his hometown for a long time.

The Burnley based branch became the 20th in the UK and now offers 24 people who have experienced homelessness accommodation and work in one of the charity’s social enterprises, including at the secondhand furniture shop it runs on Ivy Street. Emmaus is based at Booth Court and the site is now known as Emmaus House.