A lockdown fundraiser thought up by two pupils at Ballard School in New Milton has raised almost ten times the fundraising target amount for Marwell Zoo.

Simon Ridley, Head of Lower Prep at Ballard School

Head of Lower Prep, Simon Ridley, dressed up like a penguin on the first day back at school as the pupils hit nearly ten times their fundraising target amount.

The animal fancy dress day was led by Year 5 pupils Lily and Mia, who invited their classmates and teachers to make a donation and wear their favourite animal pyjamas or costumes for a day.

Children across the Lower Prep School spent a school day doing their lessons online or in school wearing their favourite animal-themed outfits, onesies and pyjamas. 

Donations topped £1,000, ensuring that the head of Lower Prep, Simon Ridley, had to go through with his promise to dress up like a penguin on the first day back at school in March if they beat their original £150 target. 

Mr Simon Ridley said: “Well done to Mia and Lily for following through on a wonderful idea and for organising a very successful event. Not only did they raise a fantastic amount for a good cause, but they provided some much-appreciated fun for the children and staff during online lessons, and the children of keyworkers at school.

“They’ve done us all proud – and it was my pleasure to dress up as a penguin in recognition of the brilliant job they did.”

The girls’ efforts were so successful that they were awarded a ‘Fundraising Legend’ award from JustGiving, as one of the most successful fundraising pages on the website in January.

Mia and Lily, Ballard School

Mia and Lily came up with the idea to dress up as animals to raise money for Marwell Zoo.

Andrew McCleave, headmaster at Ballard School, added: “We’re so proud of Mia and Lily and all our inspirational pupils. It is fantastic to see them so engaged with the world around them and working to make a difference for causes they are passionate about at such a young age.”

The donation also impressed Marwell’s chief executive, James Cretney, who told the school via a video message: “It really is terrific, we’re so grateful; from all the animals here, a big thank you.” 

Marwell zoo usually offers a range of hands-on workshops for all ages, as well as self-guided visits and higher education resources. For more information, visit www.marwell.org.uk/education.