A GOVERNMENT minister spent a morning educating schoolchildren in Colchester about how they could support Unicef’s Soccer Aid appeal.

Lord Michael Bates, the Minister of State for international development, visited the Gilberd School to spread awareness of how the Government is working to help endangered and poverty-stricken children worldwide.

His visit also coincided with the launch of the Soccer Aid Playground Challenge, which sees pupils wearing their favourite sports kit for a day and completing a specially-designed obstacle course at their school.

But instead, the students held sports tournaments and will hold a fundraising non-uniform day.

Mark Orrin, assistant headteacher, said: “Lord Bates was impressed by our students, both by their uniform and obvious pride in the school but more importantly, perhaps, by their questions, their commitment to raising money for charities, and their knowledge of the work of the Department for International Development.


Lord Michael Bates and MP Will Quince

“Meeting a minister made the links to Government and to international aid seem a little more real.

"This has hopefully highlighted to our students their ability to be a part of both national and global issues and to affect change.”

Prefects and student governors, including Hannah Meekings, Avril Maponga and Oliviyah Whitnell-Long whose Fairtrade speech at the Houses of Parliament impressed the minister so much he gave them a book on public speaking, were among those who got to quiz Lord Bates.

The trio were alongside Evan Rivierre, chairman of the School Council, secretary Milly Hill, and Year Ten prefect Shadman Chowdhury.