On Friday 12th September ITV Meridian news arrived in force at King Ethelbert School in Birchington to award the Pride of Britain award for the fundraiser of the year for the South East of England to Pat Buckley. Pat Buckley was shortlisted down to the last four with each finalist being given a slot on Meridian news each evening last week. The winner was decided by a panel of judges who made their decision after watching the films that had been made about the way they were helping change communities by their fundraising initiatives.
All 4 finalists were worthy winners but Pat Buckley, a resident of Birchington and a teacher at King Ethelbert School for over 38 years, was the man who captured the judges hearts.
Pat has been raising money through the Enjewel India project at King Ethelbert for over 10 years. Every two years a number of students from the Enjewel team which heads up the school’s fundraising in order to gather together as much money as they can for the Aids Orphanage in Goa, India. This year the students, all year 10 pupils from King Ethelbert, have raised a staggering £30,000 to present to the orphanage in India to try to give these children something to make their lives happier and more fulfilled. Over the years Pat has raised nearly £200,000 and has taken over 50 students from King Ethelbert to visit these children and to make a difference to their lives. It is thanks to Pat’s fundraising activities that there is now an extension on the orphanage which bears the plaque ‘With thanks to our friends at King Ethelbert, Birchington, Thanet, England.’ Pat and his Enjewel teams raise the money by carrying out a whole range of fundraising activities including zoomba classes, bike rides, jumble sales, raffles, sponsored events and any other event that brings the people of Thanet together to raise money for this worthy cause.
‘The children in the AIDS orphanage in Goa have so little and not only do we give them some money to make their lives just a bit better, we also make friends with them and communicate regularly with letters exchanged throughout the two years between visits’ said Kate Greig, headteacher, who is fully behind the Enjewel project and is delighted that Pat received this prestigious award to celebrate all that he has done for both the community of Goa and the community of Thanet. ‘Our students really change once they have been over to India to see how little some people have. I remember the students taking £1.00 plastic fans over to use in the heat and the children in India were so amazed and delighted by them that there were soon handed over – it was nothing to our students but everything to these children who were thrilled with these gifts. All the students who visit come back knowing that they are very lucky and even more determined to make the most of their own lives.’
There have been many generous people in Birchington outside the school from parents and friends of the school to Westgate Golf Club and the Rotary Club and many more who have given time and money to help the fundraising for Enjewel and it is Pat Buckley’s efforts which have made all this happen.
Pat Buckley is very well known in the local community. He taught at King Ethelbert for so long that many people living in the local area know him and all of them cannot speak highly enough of this unique and very special man. Since retiring two years ago, Pat has not only carried on leading the Enjewel project, he also volunteers at King Ethelbert mentoring students and working with young people to make sure they make the most of their opportunities and develop confidence in themselves. ‘We always say at King Ethelbert that we want everyone to be happy and successful and Pat is still such an important part of the school team that helps make this happen. He cares so much about the students and will give any amount of time and energy to make sure they succeed. He sees the best in everyone and will give whatever it takes to make everyone’s life better – children in Goa and in different ways the children in Thanet.’ says Kate Greig, ‘I have never met anyone like him. He is hugely popular with everyone and his humour, warmth, loyalty and tenacity are recognised and valued by us all. He thoroughly deserves this award and all our staff, students and parents are delighted for him. He should be recognised for everything he gives to others – he is a unique and incredibly special man. ‘
Pat was overwhelmed at getting the award. He was nominated by Morgan Simpson-Smith, one of the Enjewell team who knew that he should indeed be a Pride of Britain. Morgan said, ‘I nominated Mr Buckley because he is hard working and he has changed so many people’s lives.’ She was thrilled when the judges decided to give him the award. In a typical Pat Buckley way he tried to pass the thanks and honour on to others but this time it is about Pat Buckley – the extraordinary fundraiser with the extraordinary heart. Mia Crow, one of the Enjewel project students said ‘Mr Buckley is an extraordinary man, he supports this amazing project and with our school work. When he got his award he saw it as a team effort, not himself.’ Another Enjewel student, Levi Harker-Durmush said ’Mr Buckley is the most committed man I have ever met, he has put everything he possibly can into helping others.’
Pat will be going to London to be on the national televised programme The Pride of Britain Awards where famous celebrities will honour him for all he has given – and quite right too.