Thank you FoS
Friends of SGGS (FoS) is a long-standing charity group run by passionate parents and guardians of the students at Stratford Girls’ Grammar School. Enhancing experiences and raising funds towards a stimulating learning environment has helped maintain our school as the modern, vibrant and happy place it is today.
In this week’s blog, we hear from the Chair of FoS, Katie Rimell, on how the organisation has overcome recent challenges and adapted during the coronavirus pandemic to raise over £5,000 since last year.
Over to Katie…
Over the years, we have helped the school to raise funds and supported however necessary, including adopting a little redirection towards safety this past year. FoS contributions have helped SGGS purchase items like a mini-bus, picnic tables and benches and a collection of laptops. One of our proudest achievements is the £20,000 raised in 2018/19 and the ‘FoS Fitness Suite’, named in recognition of our contribution to the school’s development of the Hargreaves building.
Ultimately, we help with the things that normal school funding cannot. As we are all volunteers, there are no overheads and every penny we raise goes towards enhancing the school experience for every student, but none of this can happen without the support of our school community.
A different approach
Like many charities, FoS had to rethink its fundraising activities throughout lockdown and moved largely online. We set ourselves a revised target of £10k for 2019/20 (half of our usual aim) and the same for 2020/21. So far during this school year, we've managed to donate £5000, no mean feat, but as a team who like to deliver, we're still striving to add to this before the financial year closes as we'd truly like to hit our target.
Our successful yearly quiz took place via Zoom and for the first time it had a Christmas theme, which was great fun for all involved. In a normal year, the school concerts are a great fundraising opportunity for us with refreshments and a raffle, but with the concerts on hold, we decided to hold a raffle for bumper filled family hampers. This proved to be extremely successful in the run-up to Christmas.
We also had fun in October with a virtual balloon race which was a great success. Sadly none of our entrants won the race, but our school winner was treated to a lovely hamper. A second race at Whitsun was less successful as a fundraiser, but still helped to successfully add to the pot and our lucky school winner again received a hamper of goodies.
Each year we hold the FoS200 Club that sees entrants win one of three prizes each month during the first six months of the year. It's a great contributor to our fundraising total and is the only activity to not be impacted by the effects of COVID-19. Our FoS200 Club will be ready for the new entrants as we return for our 2021/22 fundraising.
Our preloved uniform sales have gone through the roof this past year, and it seems to be for a few reasons. We've had students growing out of barely worn uniforms (great for quality donations) and therefore needing a new uniform for the short time they were on the school grounds. We've had families needing to spend a little less and also those who have the environment in mind. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed broadening the school community and getting to know the new families who've joined the school during our socially distanced hand-overs.
The recent bubble fun nights have been a new venture for the FoS team. The first two Fridays in July saw the two youngest year groups involved and having a fun-filled evening with their school friends. Due to the success of these bubble nights, we'll definitely consider them again in the future as it was great to see the students relaxed and having a good time.
We're extremely privileged to have received an incredibly generous donation from an Alumnae family of SGGS. We're over the moon to have been given the donation and also very flattered to be remembered by them. The final figures for 2020/21 are still being finalised, and we look forward to sharing these soon.
With the summer holidays underway, we’re looking forward to the new term when we can begin planning and confirming dates once we fully understand the new coronavirus guidelines. We hope to be able to resume some of the activities that welcome our new families to the school and go ahead with our Autumn term quiz, which is an easy switch between live and online if needs be.
Our ambition will continue to be fundraising for the students and the school environment with a focus on those things that can't quite be achieved in the regular school budgets. We look forward to being able to reintroduce some of our favourite events such as the Year 7/8 discos once it's safe for students and our dedicated volunteers. We couldn't be successful without our unique and enthusiastic volunteers. It's very important that we all do what we can and that it's within our comfort zone, but every extra pair of hands makes a huge impact. We're a welcoming bunch who all have busy lives away from our school fundraising, but we give our time because we want the best for the students.
Want to get involved?
Whilst activities are predominantly focused on fundraising, many parents join to give something back. We welcome and encourage new members to support FoS in any way they like. This can be monetary donations towards objectives and goals, but also donating time, expertise or skills to help support the organisation and smooth running of events, performances, concerts, quizzes, raffles and discos.
Crucially, we need specific roles occupied to maintain our charity status. We urgently need to recruit a treasurer as our current treasurer Fiona is unable to continue due to her other charitable commitments. The new system that she's set up is run virtually and online to keep us safe and to reduce the amount of administration; the new volunteer, when we find one, should have an easy handover.
I'm in my final year as Chair of FoS as my daughter finishes Year 13 in May 2022, and I'm keen to recruit the new lead or lead pairing soon to ensure we create a smooth transition. As the summer term is drawn to an end, we look forward to our return in September and can’t wait to kick-start our 2021/22 fundraising.
Finally, a parting message from our Head Teacher, Mrs Cornell...
Katie has been an excellent Chair and we are truly sorry to see her go. Her support and encouragement have allowed SGGS students and parents to come together in a myriad of ways, which unite our community, cement friendships and raise much-needed funds for the school community. Each Chair raises the bar in terms of the breadth of FoS activities and fund-raising totals, and Katie is no exception. She leaves us with our best wishes and huge thanks for her leadership and support of the school throughout her tenure.
To learn more about FoS and how to help their ongoing commitment to the SGGS students, please contact the team at FoS@sggs.org.uk