A fun 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.

The animal fancy dress day was led by Year 5 pupils, Lily and Mia, who are both passionate about animal welfare. They invited fellow pupils – and their teachers - to make a donation and don their favourite animal pyjamas or costumes for a day.

Children across the Lower Prep School spent a school day in January doing their lessons online or in school wearing their favourite animal-themed outfits, onesies or pyjamas. Donations topped £1000, ensuring 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 (March 8th) if they beat their original target of £150.

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

Their donation also impressed Marwell’s Chief Executive, James Cretney, who created a personalised video thank you message which was shared with Lower Prep pupils during their online assembly on March 4th. He told them: “It really is terrific, we’re so grateful; from all the animals here, a big thank you.”

Head of Lower Prep, 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!”

Andrew McCleave, Headmaster at Ballard School, said:

“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.”

Ballard is a co-educational independent school based in the New Forest and offers education for children aged 2-16. For more information on Ballard School, visit: https://www.ballardschool.co.uk/