BIG-hearted students and staff at Kidderminster’s Baxter College have smashed their fundraising target for Sport Relief despite the school closing to all but a handful of children.

The school initially expected the fundraiser would need to be suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, with many students and staff initially self-isolating then the closure of the school on March 20, but staff and students persevered and beat their £1,000 target.

After a planned sponsored climb of Mount Snowdon had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, Baxter staff were determined to beat their 5,932-mile challenge - the distance from Kidderminster to Tokyo - and managed to reach 7,042 miles, while students from years seven to 13 clocked up 11,608.

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The response to the challenges to walk or cycle as many miles as possible during the month of March was “overwhelming”, said PE teacher Dave Tansley.

He said: “This was a fantastic effort and we have beaten our £1,000 target for Sport Relief, raising £1,204 – and there’s still more money coming in.

“This shows what a strong community we have at Baxter. Even through these difficult times, staff, students and their families all pull together for a good cause.

“The Baxter College PE department would to thank all of those who have been involved, supported and donated to such a fantastic charity, which tackles poverty and injustice both in the UK and in the world’s poorest countries.”

Students and staff logged miles completed on foot, bicycles and exercise equipment, with highlights including a 24-hour exercise challenge on treadmills, cross-trainers and exercise bikes in the school gym and the Sport Relief sponsored mile.

Mr Tansley added: “It is essential that we maintain both our physical and mental health throughout this difficult isolation period and this challenge has proven a great motivational tool for staff and students to keep active.

“We would love for this level of participation to continue even though the challenge is over and we are encouraging staff and students to maintain their activity levels by setting weekly activity challenges to complete.

“We are also promoting the Joe Wicks PE daily workouts on YouTube in a bid to keep our Baxter community healthy and help them take care of their wellbeing.”

Baxter College principal Matthew Carpenter said: “The dedication from the staff has been unbelievable, especially considering the difficulties and restrictions faced.

"The students’ challenge was also an absolutely fantastic effort and I am so proud of them all.”

The school is part of the Severn Academies Educational Trust and chief executive Chris King added: “This is a remarkable achievement and is testimony to the nature of Baxter College and the character of its students and staff, that they seek to help others even at a time like this.”

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