Heaven-sent stunt from blue yonder

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IT WAS the heartstopping moment Blue Day reached for the sky...and made it.

Soaring out of an appropriately-coloured Pompey-blue sky, Nicki Baker swooped over dozens of her mightily-impressed pupils.

111681-440_BD_MARY_ROSE_SR_6/5/11'The Pompey bus rolls into Mary Rose School with Linvoy Primus, David Lampitt and Pompey mascot Nelson onboard.''Picture:Steve Reid 111681-440

111681-440_BD_MARY_ROSE_SR_6/5/11'The Pompey bus rolls into Mary Rose School with Linvoy Primus, David Lampitt and Pompey mascot Nelson onboard.''Picture:Steve Reid 111681-440

It was probably the most imaginative stunt ever dreamed up for The News’s annual mammoth charity fundraising event.

It was certainly the most spectacular as deputy head Mrs Baker roared over her Leigh Park school yesterday to massive cheers from the Blue Day-crazy youngsters.

Her 500ft-high flypast above Front Lawn Junior School was just one of dozens of events organised by schools, businesses and individuals as part of the Blue Day bonanza which raises cash for the Tom Prince Cancer Trust.

It is run by the family of the avid young Pompey fan who died from bone cancer, osteosarcoma.

111683-602_BD_FRONT_LAWN_SR_6/5/11'Claire Martin from the Pompey Study Centre painting the face og Liam Benson at  Front Lawn Junior School.''Picture:Steve Reid 111683-602

111683-602_BD_FRONT_LAWN_SR_6/5/11'Claire Martin from the Pompey Study Centre painting the face og Liam Benson at Front Lawn Junior School.''Picture:Steve Reid 111683-602

All around the area people were doing their bit to help raise money.

Pompey Independent Supporters Association organised a sponsored bike ride around the city.

A group of family and friends in Gosport with children as young as nine months did a six-mile walk.

Toddlers at Little Whale Nursery, Whale Island, made their own blue playdough and painted a giant picture of the Spinnaker Tower blue with their footprints.

And Pompey played a huge part yesterday in the fifth Blue Day event since we launched it in 2008.

The club sent its coach around several schools yesterday to help swell the charity coffers, complete with playing legend and now ambassador Linvoy Primus on board.

And if his presence wasn’t enough to send children deliriously happy, he was accompanied by the club’s doughty sea dog mascot, Nelson.

Even chief executive David Lampitt joined in the fun as the bus made its first call of the day to Mary Rose School in Gisors Road, Milton.

All 125 youngsters at the purpose-built school catering for the needs of young people aged from two to 19 who have severe and complex needs, donned blue clothes for the day, many of them in Pompey shirts. And the staff joined in the day of fun, too.

Kitchen staff Marie Gillingham and Pauline Roach spent hours making dozens of special blue jellies for the children to enjoy at lunchtime.

Teacher Neil Kefford led from the front and had his face painted blue along with his pupils.

He said: ‘It’s one of the best days of the school year. The children love it and it gives everyone a chance to let their hair, their blue hair, down for the day.’

At Solent Infant School in Evelegh Road, Farlington, pictured on the front page, the children thought they were in for a normal assembly – until Nelson waddled in followed by Linvoy. As they say at Fratton Park, the crowd went wild.

Linvoy told them: ‘We just happened to be passing, heard you singing and wanted to see who was making such a fantastic sound.’

And the duo made the children’s year when they joined in a cacophanous rendition of The Saturdays’ Hiya complete with tricky dance moves the like of which haven’t been seen in Portsmouth since the days of Robert Prosinecki.

Little Charlie Spry, seven, said: ‘How cool was that. It was fantastic to see them in our school. I’d like them to come every week.’

And so the Pompey bus took the dynamic duo on to Front Lawn at Leigh Park.

The school has been one of the staunchest supporters of Blue Day since its inception in 2008.

But, as reported in The News, it has more reason than most to raise money for the Tom Prince charity.

For 10-year-old Chloe Challoner is a pupil there and head Tina Newman said: ‘Blue Day has extra meaning for all of us here, especially for the children.

‘Chloe’s illness has really focused their minds on the event.

‘The children have made a mile-long blue and white paper chain which we call the Chain of Hope – in the hope that a cure can be found for this form of cancer.’

The entire school sat on the lawn beneath the serpent-like chain and held a minute’s silence to think of Chloe and Tom.

And then it was fun time. They rushed to the school’s large back field and all eyes scanned the sky for the appearance of their deputy head in a blue and white Cessna Skyhawk. Mrs Baker, who has been having flying lessons from Goodwood for the past year, also likes fast cars, according to her colleagues.

But Julie Madgwick, who organised the school’s extensive Blue Day extravaganza, said: ‘When she left us earlier for Goodwood she was very nervous.’

The children had made donations to guess the exact moment Mrs Baker’s plane would appear over their school grounds.

And bang on cue it arrived before Mrs Baker’s instructor Dieter Sinanan took the controls to perform some aerobatics.

There were huge cheers and the youngsters began chanting her name as the plane made three passes over the school.

Mrs Madgwick added: ‘What on earth do we do next year?

‘It’s just going to have to be the Red Arrows trailing blue and white smoke.’

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