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Chair's Annual Report 2016/17

posted 21 Sep 2017, 15:12 by OLOR PA Association

It is my pleasure as Chair to report back on the past year’s activities and events of the PA.  As a committee we have been extremely delighted to have organised and overseen a record number of PA events in the last 12 months raising an extraordinary amount for the school. We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all those parents who helped and volunteered in any way. It simply would not be possible without your support or your ideas. Indeed many of the events mentioned below were in fact borne of your ideas and suggestions!

For fear of missing anyone out – I shall not be able to list all names and thank people individually but you know who you all are I hope!! The Treasurer's Report will deal with the facts and figures in more detail but I would like to (as briefly as I can !) review the events that have taken place:

We began last September 2016 with the school’s first Camp Out which set the year off to a flying start ! Indeed this camping event will now hopefully become a firm fixture on the OLOR calendar with the second camp out already having taken place this weekend.  A huge thank you to the parents who have been behind this wonderful family event and all the volunteer supporters.

 A new fundraising venture we also introduced last year was the Christmas Card scheme which proved a great success and gave children an opportunity to showcase their artistic talents at the same time as helping to raise money for the school. Our traditional Christmas Bazaar took place at the end of the Autumn Term with a fantastic number of stalls and volunteer helpers.  We invited the Wickford Air Cadets, ShowBiz dance school and a ‘Princess and Superhero’ to help entertain the crowds and under a beautifully decorated school hall (again a parent volunteer) a magical afternoon was had by all. A special thanks  to   all local businesses  and individuals who kindly donated prizes, paid for advertising and offered their support.

In the New Year of 2017, thanks to the help of an enthusiastic team of volunteers we brought back an OLOR institution – the ‘Movie Night’, which proved an overwhelming success and as popular as it had been back in the 80’s! More of this nights hopefully to follow!

To beat the winter blues our next event was the 50th Anniversary Ball  which gave us all a chance to put our glad rags on and enjoy ourselves as well as raising a huge amount of money. Thank you to the team who put together this wonderful Ball which is no mean feat!!  

Another new fundraising event that we introduced to the PA Calendar this year were the Mothers and Fathers Day Sales in the Spring and Summer Term. The children absolutely loved to be able to choose gifts for their parents and loved ones, and have them individually and beautifully wrapped by a team of volunteer parents.  Thank you all so much for the support you gave overwhelmingly to these two memorable events.   

During the Easter Holidays, a hugely successful family event took place – An Easter Treasure Hunt. This was an idea from a parent who designed and mapped out a trail with Easter Egg prizes at the end. Not only a great fundraiser but it gave families a lovely day out and gave them a chance to explore parts of Rayleigh that they may not have known or noticed before.

In May saw the ever popular Race Night make its return, raising a fantastic amount and also providing a great night out for families. The event was tinged with some sadness as it was (possibly!?) Roy Mundy’s last Race Night.  Roy Mundy as many of you know has been a stalwart of the PA. He is  the ‘Roy’ of ‘Roys Army’ – the volunteer army who help with the set up and put down of most PA events . He is also the man who designs and builds the amazing ‘Roy’s Games’ that are of such a feature of the School Bazaar and Fete. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten!

The Summer Term saw yet another new fundraising event in the form of the great Inflatable afternoon. The children absolutely loved this and it was a great success financially. The heat of the summer term was also eased by another fundraising idea – that of the after school lolly sales. Thanks to those parents who dedicated their time to manning this very popular  service to children and parents at the school gate!!   

Another first at the school was the idea from a parent to run a Race for Life afternoon in the school grounds in aid of Cancer Research UK and a charity close to everyone’s heart.  In spite of all the many events that we were already organising, grandparents parents and children came out in force to support this and the afternoon was an overwhelming success raising an extraordinary amount of money for this worthy cause.

Following soon after was our biggest event, the Annual School Summer Fete. Once again, a fantastic show of support from parent volunteers and staff to make this a truly memorable and successful day with many thousands of pounds raised.  Performances took place in a large arena showcasing our school talent (cheerleading choir and fencing!)alongside local groups such as the dog display team, Big Sing Choir, ShowBiz, Get up and Dance and much more besides.  Thanks to the connections of our parents, we were thrilled to also have a large tractor on site, an armed response team, a black cab, a 50’s style MOD scooter, a petting zoo and a fantastic competition to drive an Audi Sports Car for a weekend! The field was a buzz of activity! Thank you once again to all the parents who supported this event and businesses who donated raffle prizes, paid for advertising and to all those who helped on the day in any way.

This year we decided to try a new fundraising idea – that of the Adventure Island Wristbands to sell at a discounted rate and with a view to raising funds for the school at the same time. This has been a win win situation and throughout the year we have sold a great number of wristbands. Thank you sincerely to the parents who have co ordinated this and sold the wristbands. Your help has been greatly appreciated and it has been a great way to raise money for our school.

Our role as the PA has not just been about raising money for the school as important as that is, but we have also endeavoured to reach out to parents at school and to other groups in our community to see ways in which we can work together for our mutual benefit and to build a better community spirit.

We are very lucky at school that we have so many parents with such  a  wide and varied set of professions and skills. We have tried to tap into this at our large events such as the Fete and the Bazaar and also in other ways such as the notice board in the waiting area, which is now a place for parents to advertise businesses and services.  Also, and more specifically, in the Summer Term, a parent who is a paramedic,  ran an invaluable First Aid event, which was well supported and extremely informative.  We hope to run more events such as this and are always keen to hear from parents with specialist training or skills, or who may be able to bring something different  or unique to a school event.

In terms of reaching out to community groups,  we have tried to forge closer links to our parish pre school this year. At our summer fete, the pre-school had their own competition (the black cab ride!)which drew quite a crowd ! For the pre-school’s annual sports day, the PA suggested they make use of the school field – which Mr Parascandolo kindly allowed and a wonderful afternoon it was too with the children and parents having the space to run and jump to their hearts content as well as a chance to meet the Reception Team staff. We hope this will become an annual event.

Using the convent building has also meant that we have become close to the teams working in the offices upstairs for the Brentwood Catholic Children's Society. We have helped them to promote their charity work by selling their Xmas cards at the bazaar and throughout the year we have donated items to them such as hampers which they used at their own fundraising events. In return they have kindly let us use their garage space for Fete and Bazaar donations for which we are most grateful. We have tried to maintain a strong bond with Our Lady of Ransom Church, through advertising events in their newsletters and also organising coffee mornings. The Legion of Mary, other parish groups and of course Fr Paul have also been invited to all our main school events to run stalls  as a way of providing a link between he school and the parish which was always something that was intended since the school’s opening.

Speaking of which! The school celebrated its 50th Anniversary this year and the PA took a leading role.  We helped to organise the events which culminated in the memorable Family day - to include the mass celebrated by the bishop, the balloon launch, sports day and the hugely successful barn dance . The community spirit of warmth and generosity once again shone though and was commented upon by several invited guests and former staff of the school.  It is of great credit to you all as parents that all the events mentioned above and in particular with the addition of the 50th Celebrations, have been so well supported and attended. It really has been an incredible year!!

Furthermore, parents at the school have also come forward this year to make the school environment and grounds flourish in ways we could not have thought possible. The pond at the front of the school has lay abandoned and dormant for over 20 years but in less than a year, thanks to a small team of volunteers, new life has been breathed into it and it now is a beautiful and tranquil place where our children can learn about wildlife and our environment. Over by the school field, and again thanks to the skills and determination of a team of parent volunteers, the Woodland Area project has taken shape over the last two terms and this promises to be a really exciting chapter for the school – opening up an area that has been previously inaccessible.

I would like to take this opportunity to pay particular thanks to those volunteers that have helped with these additional projects which are so important for the life of the school and for the smaller sub working groups you have formed. Indeed another committee is now being created by volunteer parents to look at ways to rescue/revive our school pool. And so the projects continue!

I have already mentioned ‘Roys Army’ and I would like to personally thank them all once again for the many many hours they have worked at the school long past the closing of the gates and often by torchlight, to make all the above events, and projects possible. I would like to also thank their patient families too! We could not run any of the things we have done, without the support of this Army which now even includes past pupils who return to help out in all weathers. Roy’s Army – now called the OLOR volunteers and led by Paul Hughes is becoming a firm Band of Brothers and Sisters who are always willing to go the extra mile to get the job done.  I hope more parents will consider joining them in their mission!

Finally as a committee we have worked very hard this last year to try to formalise our school PA and ensure we are as accessible as possible. We have utilised the PA Facebook page as best we can to promote events and appeal for volunteers and other things where necessary. The page has therefore become a key 'Go To' point of reference for all parents. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting this PA page in so many ways through volunteering sharing event photos, appeals, tips advice and information and many more things besides. Thanks must also go to the pages moderators who try to ensure the content remains PA related. As a committee we also have introduced a new social media app which is already being used by 800 other schools called Classlist. Since introducing it at the end of last term, already olor parent class reps are being assigned to help consolidate information for their class groups, help parents connect with one another  and we hope it gives parents a much more proactive role as part of the school community.

We are always very keen to hear the ideas and suggestions of parents at the school and as mentioned above  many of the events we have held this year have come directly from you. We established a central pa email for any parents to be able to contact us. This has worked very effectively and we would love you to continue to use this. As a committee we take a vote on any ideas/suggestions/proposals that are brought to us to ensure that everything is considered justly and fairly. We have done our very best to honour as many of your ideas as possible. We have subscribed to PTA UK as a source of guidance and information and have established a PA constitution to help ensure we are adhering to a formal fair and just approach to all proceedings.

Above all our aim as a committee has been to make sure every single parent at this school has a voice and a chance to contribute in any way. To those of you who want to become more involved in the PA this coming year, whatever time you can give, or support you can offer will be greatly appreciated and most welcome.

Looking ahead, to this coming year myself James Nunn and Hayley Callaway will be stepping down from our roles as chair treasurer and assistant treasurer to make way for new volunteers to take up where we have left off! We will still be an active part of the PA ensuring a smooth handover and making sure our community continue to enjoy the huge selection of events we provide for them.

I would like to personally thank you all for your overwhelming support as a parent community. On behalf of the committee I would also especially like to thank Mr Parascandolo, Mrs Peoples, Mrs Davis and all staff at the school, in particular those who kindly gave up so much of their time to help the PA in any way. Thank you for promoting and encouraging the children to support our events; for running stalls at our fetes, bazaars and the barn dance; helping gather donations, co-ordinating Christmas card drawings, ushering queues of Mother’s and Father’s Day gift customers in and out of the hall and many more things besides. From the front office team, Mrs Rance, Ms Murphy and Mrs Eaton to the staff, teaching assistants, cleaners and Mr Herring our wonderfully accomodating caretaker – you have all been incredibly supportive to the work of the PA and alongside the parents have played a vital role in the success of this last year.  I would also like to thank my fantastic team of committee members – Craig as assistant Chair, Danielle and Claire as secretaries and James  and Hayley as Treasurers.  It has been a whirlwind of a year for us with so many events  but it has been hugely enjoyable and the support you have given me has been steadfast and firm.  We have made a great team, playing, I hope to all our skills and strengths.  It has been an honour and privilege to have been Chair for this last year and I sincerely hope we have given your children and yourselves some very cherished and above all fun memories of time spent at Our Lady of Ransom. My aim through my role as Chair has been to engender enthusiasm in others and forge a strong community spirit to go forward and I hope I have achieved that. Above all I  hope you all have made new friends and found joy, contentment and laughter as part of this unique school family.

Your retiring Chair,

Clare Mason