Hospital chosen for charity after pupil's life saved

Raising money for Starship Hospital was more than just a school project for Gore High School’s career navigator class.

The pupils organised a non-uniform day recently along with an afternoon sausage sizzle and basketball tournament.

The fundraising event was part of their career navigation programme run by the Graeme Dingle Foundation.

Pupil Jacob Sheppard said there was a special reason his class had chosen the children’s hospital as the charity for the project.

"I’ve been to Starship. They pretty much saved my life.”

In his last year of primary school he woke up one morning very sick and had to be flown in an air ambulance to the Auckland hospital.

“I had streptococcal meningitis and the doctors bore a hole through my head to release fluids,” he said.

“The doctors said I had been knocking on the door to death.”

When the class had to choose a charity, Jacob shared his story with his fellow pupils and they agreed on Starship.

“It kind of gives back to them because they’ve done something for me,” he said.

“We want to raise awareness for what they are doing and help support them to continue their work by making a donation.”

Starship Foundation head of individual giving Krissy Garnham said that she was thankful to Jacob and his class.

“We’re frequently humbled by stories like Jacob’s from children and whanau across the country who have a Starship story and want to give back.”

Lydia Martyn, who is in Jacob’s class, said while there were lots of worthy charities to choose from, she was happy to support one which had saved a fellow pupil’s life.

Two months of planning went into the project, which included getting sponsorship from local businesses.

“In career nav, we’ve been learning about work attributes like teamwork, communication, planning, thinking skills … so it’s really cool to put them into practice,” Lydia said.

Programme co-ordinator Alan Steele said it helped set the pupils up for the future.

It gave them “some really great pillars of success in terms of being able to show their positive attitude, their communication skills and also their resilience in being able to put together such an event that involved so many community contacts”.

Those were skills employers were looking for, he said.

He was confident the pupils had surpassed their $600 target at the fundraiser.

The money raised would be used to buy items such as colouring books for the hospital, and an online donation would also be made.

 - Michael Curreen