A Magical Night at Mountain Ash Comprehensive School!

On Wednesday 12th July, at Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, the first ever ‘First Give’ grand final took place. Year nine students gave presentations to their peers, teachers, family and friends. During their Religious Studies lessons over the previous eight weeks, the students had investigated social issues that affect their community and the charities that address these problems.

The students interviewed and visited their chosen charities and gave a PowerPoint presentation to their peers. Mr. Church and Miss Summers then selected eight winning teams who progressed to the grand final. Through the First Give programme, one of these teams had the opportunity to win £1000 for their chosen charity and two others would win £250 accordingly.

The students were judged by Mr. Mead (Deputy Headteacher), Mrs. Mackie (Assistant Headteacher), Mr. Williams (Governor of the school), Jack Thickett (Head Boy), Rachael Piper (Head Girl), Mr. Leon Ward (First Give Wales Manager), Mrs. Howells (Welsh Labour Assembly Member for Cynon Valley), Mrs. Burford (Wellbeing in Education Consultant) and Ms. Cook (Principal Lecturer in Youth Work at Cardiff Metropolitan University).

The eight winning teams represented six chosen charities. These were: Women’s Aid (based in Pontypridd), Adref (based in Aberdare), Cynon Valley PALS (based in Mountain Ash), TEDS (based in Aberdare), Age Concern (based in Pontypridd) and the Little Princess Trust (based in Hereford).

The issues that the students had tackled in their lessons included domestic abuse, homelessness, disability, alcohol and drug dependency, care for the elderly and helping children cope with hair loss.

Before the students delivered their presentations, there was a comical breaking news report from Jagger and Woody at Heart FM radio that simultaneously broke the tension in the room and managed to make the audience rock in their chairs with laughter!

After the presentations were completed and before the three main winners were announced, the students had a surprise for the audience and the charity representatives in attendance. Over the previous week, the twenty-five students had raised £480 to ensure that each charity would take home a minimum of £160 each! There wasn’t a dry eye in the packed out school hall!

It fell to Mr. Leon Ward to announce the winners to eager drum rolls from the audience! Mason Day, Daffyd Anthony, Connor Kirwaun, Samuel Lineham and Jay Meredith-Lane were announced as the first recipients of £250 for their chosen charity, Cynon Valley PALS. Soon after, Abi Thickett and Gina Lewis also received their £250 cheque for TEDS. After a double drum roll, the £1000 winners were revealed. There was much excitement from the audience, as Ffion Withers, Abbi Middlecott, Lauren Hughes, Lowrie Tedstone, Kelsey Morgan and Nicole Walker took the top prize for Women’s Aid RCT!

Mrs. Evans, Headteacher at Mountain Ash commented: “What an absolute pleasure it has been to be here this evening at this wonderful First Give event! This will be an event that you will all remember, as you have experienced the full range of emotions here this evening, from laughter and tears and above all pride. Congratulations again to all of our presenters. It has been a phenomenal success, in terms of not only developing team work, research and presentation skills, but also confidence for our young people.”

Mrs. Vikki Howells AM commented: “A fantastic evening at MACS First Give event. Inspirational presentations from pupils. Impressive engagement with local charities.”

Mr. Leon Ward (First Give Wales Manager) commented: “I have been blown away by the talent this school has shown. Parents, charities and friends of MACS turned out in force. I loved hosting this event. It was a treat. You’ve a very special set of students, teachers and supporters. You’ve made this First Give final magical! ”

The Religious Studies department would like to thank Mr. Leon Ward for assisting the school in this exceptional and inspirational program. Same time, same place next year!