Pupils at a Derbyshire primary school are fundraising to ‘make a difference’ to the lives of children in Gambia.

Year 6 pupils at St Thomas’ Catholic Voluntary Academy, in Ilkeston, are raising money to buy desks and chairs for classrooms at Sir Dembo School.

The fundraising drive was launched in line with a pledge that Year 6 pupils took, which was linked to children’s rights and responsibilities, particularly the right to an education.

Staff then thought that this would be a good opportunity to rejuvenate an historic link that St Thomas’ has with Sir Dembo.

The first step saw pupils write to the President of Gambia about making sure that children’s rights are being upheld and that children there have the same opportunities as children in this country.

Then St Thomas’ pupils wrote to pupils at Sir Dembo, telling them about their lives, hobbies, families and what they do at school.

Daniel Conlon, Year 6 teacher, said the pupils were thrilled when they received replies from pupils at Sir Dembo.

He said: “We watched a video of the children receiving our letters and our pupils couldn’t believe it.  Some of them could spot their own letters on the video and it really brought everything to life for them.

“We asked the school what they needed and what we are looking to raise money for is some desks and chairs. The children are planning cake sales to help raise the money and we want to raise as much as we can. It would be great to see photos of the desks and chairs we’ve raised being used by the children at Sir Dembo. That would help our children to see that they have really made a difference. We are hoping to write to the children there again and when our Year 6 pupils leave, hopefully our current Year 5 can pick this up and the link between the two schools can continue.”

Pupil Leo, 11, said: “In our letters we asked how old the children were and we told them what our hobbies are. I was so happy when I saw them reading our letters and when we got our replies. I think it’s good because it gives us a different perspective.”

Pupil Willow, 11, said: “I think it’s good that we sent letters as so many people do everything on their phones now. I think what the children at Sir Dembo sit on now at school doesn’t look very comfortable so that’s why we decided to fundraise for some new desks and chairs. Hopefully we can make it happen and make a difference. It makes us realise how fortunate we are to have everything that we have.”