SOUTH African school children received some life-changing news, thanks to the incredibly generous pupils of St John’s on-the-Hill School in Chepstow.

A huge total of £3,500 has been raised for the Isikhokelo Primary School in the Khayelitsha township, in Cape Town.

The St John’s children worked incredibly hard to raise money for the school, which they visited on a recent three-week exchange trip to South Africa. They raised the money through a range of initiatives in the run up to the trip, including a sponsored read-a-thon, triathlons and car boot sales. They also organised a dedicated charity day at school, where the children experienced a traditional African dance and drum workshop.

Miss Stephanie George, the St John’s teacher who organised the trip, said: “We have been visiting the school for a number of years and have built a close relationship with the wonderful teachers and children there. It is an underprivileged school and so we just wanted to help them. With the funds, we bought computers, printers, a year’s supply of ink, laminators and projectors, writing books, pens and reading books. Visiting the school was an incredible experience for all of our children – we joined their lessons, sang and danced together and played football.”

Anna Boyle, a Year 7 pupil at St John’s, said: “This was such an amazing trip which I will never forget. I have made friends for life on this exchange and I will be forever grateful for this experience. I had the best time ever!”

The South African Exchange has run for more than 14 years and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Year 7 children at St John’s. The children were taken on lots of amazing trips in Cape Town, including: a trip to Table Mountain by cable car, visits to the Cool-Runnings Toboggan Park, A Segway tour in Stellenbosch, a trip to Cape Point, Ostrich Encounters and an educational visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was infamously held prisoner.

They then travelled by plane to East London where they had a few days at the Stirling Primary School, learning the Afrikaans and Xhosa languages and playing the Marimbas. They also took part in Jonginenge activities, which included surfing, sandboarding, canoeing and rock climbing. However, the pinnacle of the trip was surely the three-day safari – the children spotted four out of the big five animals (rhinoceros, lion, elephant and buffalo); indeed, they were fortunate enough to have a VERY close encounter with the lions!