The early weeks of lockdown showed us various things. That communities can rally together when times are tough. That it really is possible for the world to be rocked on its axis, like something from a bad sci-fi film. And that time outdoors is always something to be treasured.
This proved as true for children as it did for anyone. The rapidly greening lanes around the villages were full of school-age walkers, cyclists and nature detectives. For our two – Joseph, 10, and Bethan, 7 – it was inspiring for them to pass so many of their friends on their daily exercise outings. Other things left them inspired, too. When we cycled past Adam Smith doing a sponsored 26.2 miles in his Milton garden on the day of the London Marathon, Joseph’s mind got whirring. And when Bethan’s friend Martha raised money for the World Wildlife Fund by doing a monkey-bar challenge in her garden, Bethan got thinking too.
Within a couple of days, they’d decided on their own challenges. We’d told Bethan about the Youth Hostel Association’s ‘Time for the Front Line’ appeal, which would be funding breaks for 900 frontline staff and their families. She decided to do 100 minutes of skipping to raise money for the cause (spoiler alert: it turns out that 100 minutes of skipping is every bit as exhausting as it sounds, even when you’re 7). She did two five-minute sessions a day, with multiple clock-stops for water breaks.
Joseph, meanwhile, who has inherited from somewhere the energy levels of a cocker spaniel, resolved to run the distance of a marathon in six days (mercifully, we talked him out of trying to do it in three). His ‘track’ was the riverside field up past the surgery in Shipton. He chose to raise money for Katharine House Hospice, near Banbury, which had been repurposed as a COVID ward.
Collectively they raised more than £800, and got such fantastic support from local friends and families that the whole experience left them both elated.
“Raising money gave me a brilliant feeling inside,” was Bethan’s verdict.
Joseph, meanwhile, said “It made me feel very good about myself because everyone was supporting me”.
But they were, of course, just two of many young fundraisers. Each week, the Wychwood Primary School newsletter detailed pupils’ efforts in sponsored events which raised thousands of pounds. The lockdown might have juddered the country to a halt, but it didn’t quash young spirits.
Helen and Ben Lerwill
August – September 2020