Caring pupils and staff from The Valley Leadership Academy will be giving the gift of kindness to vulnerable people in the local community.

The pupils have been taking part in activities and challenges to raise funds and offer companionship as part of their annual Festive Winter Gift Programme.

Pupils at the school collected gifts and baked treats to fill 57 care packs that were delivered to local care homes – Olive House and The Laurels – and to Rossendale Hospice. Christmas cards, designed by pupils, containing messages of hope and friendship were also shared with residents so they could feel remembered during the festive season.

Festivities peaked with a special virtual Christmas concert, where pupils from the school recorded renditions of much-loved classic carols, which will be played to residents at the hospice and care homes.

The whole school community also collected toys, food and treats which were donated to the local charity, The Raft Foundation, which provides food and emergency supplies to people in need across Rossendale. Pupils also donated more than £500 raised from their Christmas jumper day and bake sales to Rossendale Hospice.

Andrew O’Brien, Executive Principal at The Valley Leadership Academy, described this year’s Festive Winter Gift activities as an exceptionally positive way to bring the year to a close.

He said: “So many people in our community have been adversely affected in one way, or another, by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some will be struggling financially, others will be feeling the effects of ill health or loneliness.

“With COVID-19 as the backdrop for this year’s Festive Winter Gift activities, our campaign has felt especially important.

“Our pupils were delighted to have the opportunity to reach out to offer kindness and compassion to people who might be facing difficulties.

“Thank you to all our parents, pupils and staff for helping us to make a difference with our campaign.”