Employees from the Bristol office of the St. James’s Place Foundation had their first taste of volunteering as officials during a Panathlon competition.
The team of seven from the foundation, which is one of Panathlon’s main sponsors, said they were truly inspired and privileged to be part of the Panathlon experience.
St. James’s Place Foundation is the grant-making charitable arm of the St. James’s Place Wealth Management Group and the seven acted as officials at the Wesport (Bristol Unitary authorities) Primary Panathlon at the University of West England campus in Bristol.
“It was amazing to see everyone engaged in this event, see children be in a team for the first time and teachers seeing these sports for the first time. Seeing the elation in the children’s faces was something I will never forget,” said Mark Woodham Senior Practice Partner.
Catherine Ind, the Foundation Administrator, said: “They get to experience a different activity each station, this broadens their horizons as they have done these kinds of activities before. Each child across their day had ‘their moment’ and achieved amazing things.”
The engagement of Bristol follows other offices across the country and all volunteering today said they will certainly be back for more.
Students from Merchants’ Academy also provided young leaders with the St. James’s Place volunteers. Rachel Pearson, teacher in charge, said: “What a valuable experience and being the first time in a leadership role what a way to start. They have gained respect for the diverse range of children and understood better the different needs of children. Many commented on how great it was to be so interactive and how engaging the children were. Thanks for the opportunity.”
Panathlon’s chief operating officer, Tony Waymouth, said: “It has been great to get another office involved and for them to see first-hand the event day experience these children get due to the Foundation’s funding. I know that being part of the children’s experience brings Panathlon to life for St James Place staff.
“I know the Bristol office has gained an insight today into the lives and abilities of young people that are involved with us and all have said to count them in for the next day of volunteering”.
The winners of the Wesport Primary Panathlon were Warmley Park School, who took home gold medals after topping the 50 point mark.
Lead teacher Pete Clayton said: “It is great to have Panathlon here in Bristol and providing such a brilliant event. Panathlon offers equal opportunities to all our children and an opportunity to compete against other schools. The events were so inclusive and a great balance as the schools rotates. Today all added up to a first class experience for the children and teachers alike.”
Kingweston finished in the runner-up position with Culverhill in third place in this seven team competition.
Teacher Helen Bell of Culverhill said: “Panathlon is ideal for the school; these activities are pitched perfectly to allow everyone to succeed. In an environment with so much colour, involvement, space it shouldn’t really work for Autistic children but it does. This is due to the event be so well structured and nicely paced”
Krissy Emery of New Siblands School, who brought two teams, echoed these thoughts. “The event allowed us to make story books for some of Autistic children on what the event would look like,” she said. “We also created visuals and individual timetables and all this coupled with the inclusive nature of the activities, meant that all children’s needs were met.”
Andy Blackmore of Wesport said: “This is a brilliant event with so many different parties involved and it’s great to see so many special schools here. We look forward to developing the Panathlon programme further in and across Bristol “
One of Culverhill’s team , Mason, summed up the day: “ I didn’t want to come , my teacher knows I don’t like PE because it’s not fun, but here I can’t stop running from activity to activity! When can we do it again?”