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Taverham 11-year old raises over £650 for Mercy Ships

Since April, 11-year old Ashton Holmes from Taverham has invested his time, energy and passion into raising over £650 for the international Christian charity Mercy Ships after watching a video about their life-changing work during a holiday in Skegness. Jenny Seal reports.

In July, the CE Junior School in Taverham, north-west of Norwich, held its annual Leavers prize-giving.  Towards the end of the service the school’s headteacher, Mr Stanley, announced that this year they were introducing a special award to recognise the achievement of one of the Year 6 students.  The medal, inscribed with ‘Taverham Junior School Fundraiser 2018’, was awarded to Ashton Holmes recognising his efforts raising over £650 for the charity Mercy Ships.


Ashton, a smart, polite, 11-year old boy who plays clarinet and likes riding his bike, said: “I was really, really happy that they gave me that award.” 


Ashton and his family, who go to Together Loving Christ Church in Drayton, went to Butlin’s in Skegness during the Easter holidays.  The holiday camp was playing host to Spring Harvest, a five-day holiday with Christian teaching and worship.  Ashton was drawn to a video at an exhibition stand promoting the work of Mercy Ships.


Mercy Ships is a Christian charity which takes a world-class, 80-bed hospital on a ship to developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The ship is staffed by volunteer surgeons and nurses from around the world who bring free, first world healthcare to people suffering from diseases and conditions which result from abject poverty.


“I was looking at this video and I was really interested in it,” said Ashton. “What I found really sad was that there was a girl just one year older than me and her legs were just completely the opposite way.  She couldn’t walk. She just had to sit down all day.  And they [Mercy Ships] actually fixed it.  How do they do that?”


Ashton’s mum Sabrina recalls: “We would literally lose him for an hour to two hours each day, because he was there at the stand talking with a member of the Mercy Ships’ team.”


Ashton continues: “Some people had legs that were backwards, their knees were going the opposite way; some had big tumours on their face. Mercy Ships gives free surgery.  They get everyone in a big queue and give free surgery to make everyone feel a lot better. The people can’t afford it, but Mercy Ships give them the treatment that they need.


“I was quite amazed at what they could do, so I thought why not help them?  I said to the people on the stand that I’d do a fundraiser for them at my school and they were really happy about that.”


True to his word, when he got back to school, Ashton spoke about his fundraising ideas to his Deputy Headteacher who gave him the go ahead.  Sabrina said: “It literally went from there.”


Mercy Ships provided Ashton with a box of 500 charity wristbands to sell plus a PowerPoint presentation. Mr Henman, the Deputy Headteacher, and Ashton used the PowerPoint to lead a school assembly about the hospital ship.  Sabrina said: “Ashton didn’t really want to do it but he did it.” Ashton adds: “To 400 people! I was a bit stuttery at the start but it was fine.”


Clearly with a head for figures, Ashton can recount almost to the last penny how he raised the money.  He said: “Just from selling my wristbands I got £264. I sold them for 50p each.  I started off with 500 bands and now I’ve got 37.”


Ashton gave up his lunch break for three weeks to sell the wristbands in the School Library supported by his friends, Hugh, Molly and Chloe and the Librarian Mrs Miller.


“I also did a Penny Wars,” he explains. “Each class in my school had a jar and from Monday to Friday they had to fill the jar with as many coins as they could to raise the most money.  One class raised £13.87 with just silver and coppers. I counted it that day as well at school and had about £150 in total. It took me about two hours!”  The winning class received a box of biscuits which a friend from church had donated.

He also sold unwanted items donated by family and during the School’s Leavers’ Barbecue Ashton had a stand selling wristbands and running games such as ‘Balance 20p on the Lemon’ and ‘Guess How Many Gems are in the Jar’. Many of the children simply donated their 10p tickets to his stand at the end of the event.


Together Loving Christ Church also donated £200 and plan to invite someone from Mercy Ships to attend a presentation service. “It really shows how generous people are and how kind they are,” Ashton says, his face lighting up. 


His mum Sabrina has clearly been a big   support throughout, but Ashton has gone far beyond what she expected.  She said: “I just can’t believe that he’s actually done it. I really can’t. I’m quite astounded by what he’s done really. I’m so proud of him. We thought maybe he’d get about £50 or £100.”


To date Ashton has raised £661.68 for Mercy Ships. 


If you would like to contribute to his fundraising efforts please contact Ashton’s mum, Sabrina Holmes by email at [email protected].


Pictured above is Ashton Holmes with his certificate of achievement.

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