An unprecedented number of students and staff from Seaford College surged out into the community to help a variety of environmental and social causes.
This year, more than 450 people took part in the Petworth school’s fifth annual community action day, known as the Big Day Out.
They carried out 38 activities at different locations in West Sussex, East Sussex and Hampshire.
Headmaster John Green, who created the initiative, said: “The main idea is to make a positive difference to the surrounding community.
“Due to the success of our annual action day, Wednesday afternoons are now blocked out in the timetable for weekly community events.
“Our students are extremely fortunate to study and live in such a beautiful part of the country – it is only right that they put something back.”
The social and environmental projects included visiting Aldingbourne Country Centre to assist with a variety of site maintenance tasks.
Year-12 pupils visited Oak Grove College in Worthing to work in the sensory garden.
After learning more about the school, which provides special education for students from across West Sussex, they started off clearing an area where a new hut will be built. This involved digging up the roots of some bushes and removing foliage.
Seaford College student Alex Herghelegiu said: “It’s amazing that you can give something back to the community and to do something for these special children is really great, it gives you a rewarding feeling.”
Fellow year-12 student Will Shirley added: “It’s a nice day and we’ve been given some really interesting tasks to do. We just want to help make the place look more appealing for staff and students. It’s so good that Seaford has sent us all here to do this.”
Volunteers from Seaford College and the Hyde Group gave a helping hand to residents at the Whyke Estate in Chichester.
They tackled jobs including cleaning windows, removing rubbish, and clearing gardens.
Aquilla Matafwali, from year ten, said: “It’s always good to have a day out, helping other people. We’ve been helping people clear out their gardens, pulling out weeds, getting things ready for the skips to come and collect.”
Residents praised the students for their happy and friendly approach.
Nell Jones, gifted and talented co-ordinator, and students ran an activity for the whole school at Fittleworth CE Village School.
It was a special day for the Seaford students as it had been their primary school, so they were really pleased to return and give something back.
They created an Antony Gormley Fields installation at the school using clay figures. Mr Green visited and created his own figure for the installation.
Another team of Seaford students did a fantastic job renovating the play park at Hampers Green in Petworth.
Nick Pothecary, houseparent, said: “You can really see the hard work they have put in with the before and after shots. The team has worked so hard in over 30-degree heat. I’m proud of the effort they have put in.”
Two separate groups spent the day in Graffham. One cleaned the war memorial and park benches, while another cleaned the churchyard at St Giles’ Church.
Some residents from Shaw healthcare were taken for lunch at Petworth House, while others in Bognor had fun having their nails pained and doing an art session with students.
At St Barnabas House hospice in Worthing, students cleaned the memorial path and important conservation work was carried out at Pulborough Brooks, clearing Canadian balsam.
At Bracklesham Bay, students carried out the important task of litter picking and at the end of the day, Will Yates, deputy head of sixth form, declared the beaches ‘officially clean’.
Other projects included ground clearance at Coultershaw Beam Pump and animal care at RSPCA Mounty Noddy.
Community co-ordinator Clive Thorpe, who organised the day, said: “It’s really important that our students realise just how lucky they are.
“It’s great for them to get out and see that people are not as fortunate as themselves and it is good for them to discover skills they didn’t know they had.
“Looking forward, Seaford College is always open to new partnerships. If anybody would like to be considered for next year’s event, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”