Audience with a minister

Mimi Poulton, Joe Brennan and Ruby Parent, all aged 10,''with Stephen O'Brien
Mimi Poulton, Joe Brennan and Ruby Parent, all aged 10,''with Stephen O'Brien
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Primary schoolchildren on a mission to raise awareness about water shortages in Africa won an audience with a top government minister.

Three youngsters from Craneswater Juniors in Southsea travelled to the Houses of Parliament this month to meet Stephen O’Brien, parliamentary under-secretary for international development.

Ruby Parent, Mimi Poulton and Joe Brennan, all 10, were ambassadors for their whole Year Five group and gave Mr O’Brien a heart-felt presentation about the need to increase overseas aid to fund better access to water in deprived parts of the world.

They explained to him how all the children in Year Five had raised more than £1,000 for Oxfam through their sponsored 3.7-mile ‘water walk’ where they carried buckets filled with water around their school – to replicate the daily chores of children in deprived parts of the world.

They also explained how they continued to raise awareness by designing and wearing T-shirts and delivering 90 letters from each pupil to the prime minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street.

Mimi says: ‘It was really nerve-wracking meeting someone so important. But it was worth it because we were able to get our messages across.’

Joe adds: ‘The trip to London was amazing. I was really nervous but I’m glad we met Stephen O’Brien because he is a person that can make a difference. He was really kind but I was still scared when I had to speak to him directly.

‘I think that he was impressed that we raised £1,000 for Oxfam Water Week. The money we raised will go towards a well in Mali.’

Craneswater teacher Nick Peet accompanied the youngsters. He says: ‘I was enormously proud of all our children. They have really understood the suffering caused by water shortages and have been determined to make a difference.

‘Ruby, Joe and Mimi represented the school and all other concerned children brilliantly. The minister was left in no doubt that he was dealing with very committed and well-informed citizens.’

Richard Paul King, Oxfam schools engagement officer, says: ‘Mr O’Brien was very impressed with the presentation from the pupils yesterday – they really understood the issues and were passionate about people around the world having the same access to water as them.’