BIG-HEARTED youngsters displaced by the York High School fire have issued an urgent SOS, as they look to kick-start a massive fundraising drive.

Pupils, parents and staff had hoped to hold a series of events in the school in Dijon Avenue, to raise money for a trip to Tanzania next year.

But last Friday’s blaze has left them without a venue, and it is feared some auction items have been lost in the fire. Now they are appealing for help.

A group of 12 pupils and three staff is planning to travel to York High’s twin school in Korogwe next July, and needs to raise £30,000 to pay for the trip and resources and equipment for its partner school.

Karen Garrity, whose son, James, is part of Team Tanzania, said: “We will need as much support as possible – particularly in view of the recent fire which left so much of the school destroyed and other areas of school life a priority.

“Despite the upset the fire has caused and the fact that the pupils in Team Tanzania are in their GCSE years, they are determined to pull together.”

One planned event was an auction of experiences, but with the school hall now unavailable, the group is looking for an alternative venue – as well as a celebrity auctioneer and some more lots.

Deputy head teacher Gavin Cowley, who is leading the trip, said: “We have lost our venue, so we are looking for people to donate things and also a venue.”

Mr Cowley and other staff have already been to Tanzania to lay the groundwork for this trip, which will be the first involving pupils.

He said: “The 12 kids have been tasked to raise the money to go themselves. It’s not parents getting the cheque books out. It’s the kids raising it.”

In Tanzania, the group will work in Korogwe School and the local community, also putting on some drama performances and enjoying cultural experiences of their own.

One of the highlights will be climbing Tanzania’s second highest peak, Mount Meru.

Mrs Garrity said: “The backing and support the school has from its parents and the local community has never been stronger. Team Tanzania will be just one of the many accomplishments York High school has to be proud of and if you can help us on our journey in any way there are a great many people who will appreciate it and benefit.”

Anyone who can offer auction lots, arrange a well-known auctioneer, or provide a venue similar in size to a school hall is urged to get in touch with the group.

To help, phone Mrs Garrity on 07871 954085 or Mr Cowley at York High School.

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