In 2010 I was approached by a Year 11 pupil whose mother was suffering from a very serious lung illness. The girl wanted to raise funds and awareness for the British Lung Foundation. We held various fund-raising events as well as combining it with Mrs Hayes annual 'No Smoking Day' for Year 8.
As a result of the contacts we made with the British Lung Foundation we were then approached by them this year to help with their campaign to try to persuade Parliament to pass a law banning the smoking of cigarettes in cars when children were present. They had organised a petition on their website for people to sign showing their support for the campaign and they wanted 5 school from across the country to take the petition to 10 Downing Street. We were very fortunate to be the chosen school for the Midlands. We were allowed to take four pupils to London and so one pupil was chosen from Years 7 to 10. The girls selected were: S Butt (Year 10), K Ali (Year 9), E Bolt (Year 8) and S Elkington (Year 7). The petition was then sent to every form in the school, which meant that we had over a thousand names to add to the fifteen thousand from the on-line petition. Mrs Hayes held a superb No-Smoking day on March 1st which was attended by members of the British Lung Foundation and also Quit-Smoking in Birmingham people. The 300 girls in Year 8 all had a chance to visit the event and to learn more about the dangers of smoking. The four girls then became media stars as they were firstly interviewed by Radio WM and then were filmed by Central Television.
The visit to London took place on Wednesday, March 2nd, and what a day we had! We had a superb journey down (1 hour and 20 minutes) and then went by the Underground to the Embankment. We sauntered along next to the River Thames and marvelled at all the sights. We then went through the security into the Houses of Parliament and were met in the beautiful Central lobby by Linda Spencer, Steve McCabe's secretary (MP for Selly Oak). She took us to the Jubilee cafe inside Parliament and we were treated to cakes and a drink...I had a piece of tiffin and the girls had muffins. They were so excited that they took pictures of the muffins!!! Linda was so kind to us and the girls really liked her.
Then we went to Downing Street and the Central team from London met us. The girls were interviewed again. I watched it on replay tonight and they were superb; so articulate! They were also interviewed by Newsround and this will be shown nationally tomorrow. Then we walked back to Parliament and had a reception in Room A with scones and cream and jam and cakes and sandwiches. Dame Helena (BLF) gave a speech followed by Kevin Barron MP and Ann Minton, the Minister or Public Health. Without a word of a lie our girls stole the show! They led the singing of the chant when beckoned by Dame Helena and then buttoned-holed ever MP in the room. I found then at one point talking to the Minister as if she were a long lost friend. She was mightily impressed with them as was Jeremy Bacon, the Midlands co-ordinator for the BLF. Another MP suggested we go and watch a debate and so we went into visitor's gallery and watched a live debate. We were the only school group to do this!! !The girls chatted to a white-haired gentleman coming down the stairs and Jeremy told them that was Douglas Hurd.
Then a walk along the Embankment in the dark, a safe negotiation on the tube, a quick run for the train and we were back at New Street for 8.40. They said it was the best trip they had ever been on and that they would remember it forever and I certainly will!
Mr Doug Smith