From Cornard to Romania: duo deliver 600 school kits

FOND MEMORIES: Frank Marsden (right) meets the headteacher of schools in the romanian district of Fantanelle.
FOND MEMORIES: Frank Marsden (right) meets the headteacher of schools in the romanian district of Fantanelle.
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Pupils from poor Romanian schools will be dressed for success after uniforms donated by Great Cornard Middle School were delivered.

Paul Clark, from St Andrews Road in Great Cornard, and Sudbury town pastor Frank Marsden, drove for 27 hours to the Fântânele region of Romania to distribute 1,300 items of sports kit and uniforms given by the school which closed in July.

Mr Clark, whose son Josh was a pupil at Great Cornard Middle School, came up with the idea of donating the uniforms to children in the area where he had worked as an English teacher for eight years and met his wife, Lenuta, before returning to England.

“The trip was very good and the pupils were extremely happy with their uniforms,” he said.

“A lot of the children were my son’s friends and he would have been in their classes. They all sent a video message saying hello to Josh.”

Mr Marsden, who had first worked with Mr Clark on a church project several years ago, donated the use of his van to transport the uniforms and tackled the majority of the driving.

The pair met the headteacher of the Banesti School, who is responsible for all the schools in the district, before giving out football, rugby and polo shirts to each pupil.

“The next day, we took them to a gypsy school of 30 children so they each got a uniform,” said Mr Clark.

The mayor was given a football kit for the village team, a priest given uniforms for his choir and a class at a third school was given the remaining clothing.

“About 600 pupils received a uniform,” said Mr Clark. “We also handed out green sweatshirts to the teachers.

“When the children leave the school, they all hand their uniforms in so they will most certainly be used for the next few years at least,” he said.

As a mark of their gratitude, the Banesti School has adopted the Great Cornard Middle School logo and come up with a new school motto based on the GCMS initials, which roughly translates to “Thinking, creativity and work leads to success”.

Mr Clark thanked the middle school and Needlepoint Designs in Sudbury for their donations, as well as Sudbury Baptist Church and Chelmsford Star Co-op for covering the costs of the trip.

He is already planning more donations next year. To get involved, call Mr Clark on 01787 372461.