AN 11-YEAR-OLD girl ran 5k for each of the 12 days of Christmas to raise funds for an African school struck by lightning.

The storm, which hit the school in Malawi last month, injured several children and caused damage to the building.

When Poppy Hawthorne heard about the news from a teacher at her own school, St James’ Academy in Pokesdown, she set herself the challenge to run 5k a day to raise £500 for the school through the charity Hooke Court.

Her mum, Lucy, accompanied her on the daily runs, which finished on Friday, January 5.

“I’ve been doing it with her, but it was all her idea. Poppy feels quite a connection with the school in Malawi. St James’ has links to the school, and two years ago Poppy did a triathlon to raise money," she said.

“Just before Christmas the school was struck by lightning and Poppy was inspired to do another challenge to raise £500 to send to the school. She started on Christmas Day and has run 5k a day ever since.

“She hasn’t done any training for it and she’s not sporty, but she hasn’t faltered at all – on Christmas Day we went out at around 5pm and it was really windy and icy. She could have just stayed in and played with her new toys, but she’s been out every day come rain or shine.”

Poppy, who has raised nearly £400 so far for Hooke Court, said doing the challenge had been “different but really fun”.

“I think it’s important to raise money for the school because people in other parts of the world don’t have the same opportunities that we have,” she said.

Hooke Court was established as a UK charity in 2015, having been involved with nine schools in the Bandawe area of Malawi since 2011. The charity provides UK trained teachers to improve the standards of education in the schools, as well as basic resources including blackboards and exercise books.

“Poppy knows where the money she’s raised is going, which inspires her more,” Lucy said.