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The Boy at the Back of the Class: Child refugee book spurs St Michael's Primary School pupils 10-mile walk around Bishop's Stortford in aid of Refugee Action



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Children at a Bishop’s Stortford school have raised £1,000 for charity Refugee Action by completing a 10-mile walk around the town.

Year 6 pupils at St Michael’s Church of England VA Primary were inspired to help after reading The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Rauf.

The book was inspired by a Syrian mother and baby the author encountered in a Calais refugee camp while delivering emergency aid convoys for refugee families in France. It was a Sunday Times Bestseller, winner of the 2019 Blue Peter Book Award for Best Story and overall winner of the 2019 Waterstones Children's Book Prize.

The St Michael's walkers at their school in Apton Road
The St Michael's walkers at their school in Apton Road

Teacher Lindsay Mann said: “The class became very interested in finding out more about refugees and the journeys they might have to face in order to find safety.

"As more research was done into the difficulties refugees face, the class became keen to do something to help. It was decided that a 10-mile walk around Bishop’s Stortford, each carrying a bag with provisions for the day, would be a fitting challenge.

“I was so proud that the children were prepared to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and think about how challenging the lives of others are. It was fantastic that we could find a way to help a great cause.”

The St Michael's Primary School walkers at halfway near St James the Great Church at Thorley
The St Michael's Primary School walkers at halfway near St James the Great Church at Thorley

The challenge began at 8am with a warm-up on the Apton Road school’s track, where pupils complete a daily mile.

The group of 27 children and four staff then headed towards Southern Country Park and across the bypass to St James the Great Church, reaching the halfway mark before crossing back over to St Michael’s Mead. Then it was on to Thorley Park, Bishop’s Park, Dane O’Coys, Grange Paddocks and back along the River Stort to school.

Some parents provided sweet treats from their homes along the route. Everyone who started reached the finish line.

Rebecca Parnell, from Refugee Action, told them: “With each of your 10 miles, you made sure our front-line services are able to continue running and giving life-changing support to people who need it.

“Thank you to the amazing team at St Michael’s for being a part of our story – we couldn’t do it without you.”



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