Portsmouth students take to the catwalk in support of mental health charity

Luciana Herringshaw, 17, takes part in the fashion show. Picture: Lucinda Webb
Luciana Herringshaw, 17, takes part in the fashion show. Picture: Lucinda Webb

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Portsmouth High School sixth form held its annual charity week, explains head girl Ellie Webb.

Charity week at Portsmouth High has been going for more than 25 years and is always run entirely by the sixth form.

The week is made up of talent shows, live music events, a PHS version of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here bushtucker trials and a take on Just a Minute, the Radio 4 programme.

This year we have chosen to support the mental health charity, Mind.

We feel passionately about ending the discrimination and stigma of mental health illnesses.

Mind makes sure no-one has to face a mental health problem alone.

It provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health issue.

Mind campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

The charity won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.

There are so many mental health illnesses that affect many of our lives, or our families’ lives.

We want to educate the rest of the school about mental health so that hopefully we can help take away the stigma of people feeling ashamed of the suffering they are going through.

We’ve got such an array of talent in the school and charity week is a great opportunity for girls to be performing in front of their peers.

At the same time they are raising awareness and much needed funds for Mind.

The highlight of the week was the Fashion Show which we held on Thursday and Friday evenings.

We have had support from Tony Wood Hair Salon, Preview Boutique, Community Fusion, Warehouse and Bored of Southsea to name just a few.

Our A-level art students designed the sets, and the whole sixth form took part in either modelling or behind the scenes support.

The week is entirely about team work.

We’ve worked immensely hard as a sixth form, from organising daily events that the whole school can be involved in but have also to take responsibility for the business side of the week as well; the finance and insurance, ticketing, marketing and accompanying paperwork.

We’ve juggled this with A-level and other commitments, too. But we understand that this is a reflection of real life and a play hard, work hard ethos which the school has taught us from the beginning.

What the pupils say...

Grace Summers, 15, Year 10

‘Charity week is lots of fun and a great way to raise money. I didn’t know a great deal about Mind before now so I have learned how they support people with mental health issues. The fashion show was the highlight for me and the netball match against the boys was a close second.’

Lauren Day, 10, Year 6

‘I was very excited to be in the fashion show as I have always wanted to be in one.

‘I was modelling handbags.

‘The evening was so much fun and we all loved being in it. It is great that we are supporting a charity, too, as we had fun and raised money at the same time.’

Zoe Printer, 18, Upper Sixth

‘This whole experience of organising the fashion show and charity week has been unforgettable.

‘It was such a rollercoaster ride but the results left me beaming with pride. Without the support from the sixth form and the rest of the school we wouldn’t be able to raise as much as we have.’

Mabel Hutton, 12, Year 8

‘It was a fantastic week and so exciting to see the sixth form walking down the catwalk. It was good to see the video about Mind and realise everything we took part in was fun but so worthwhile too and the money we raised will help people with mental health problems.’

Charlie Smith, 16, Lower Sixth

‘As well as being the best week of the year, charity week has shown all the members of the sixth form how good it can feel to get involved and take responsibility.

‘The fashion show was the highlight of the week and both participants and the audience had fun.’

We like to prepare our girls for their future

At Portsmouth High School, we make sure that the girls are prepared for much more than just academic success, writes head of sixth form Jan Cresswell.

Careers advice starts early and focuses on building essential skills to enable every girl to make the most of her strengths.

Entrepreneurial ventures are actively encouraged: pupil noticeboards are full of innovative charity fundraising ideas.

Girls spend a day in the workplace as early as Year 9 and by the time they reach the sixth form they are more than ready to grasp the work placement and internship opportunities which we are able to offer them through the Girls’ Day School Trust network. As part of the enrichment programme, sixth form students follow an employability skills course, delivered by our dedicated careers adviser who ensures that they develop the confidence and the know-how to produce top quality CVs and handle the trickiest of interview situations.

When it comes to approaching businesses to support our charity week events, having an excellent telephone manner and writing a clear and persuasive letter certainly make it easier for the girls to secure backing.

The stunning annual fashion show is the culmination of months of planning and creative endeavour. Everything from set design and choreography to sales management and risk assessment is carried out by the students themselves and the girls quickly learn the importance of planning and delegating, as well as the value of good communication.

It really is a team effort involving the whole community and the atmosphere in the school during the week is exhilarating.