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Sunderland school unites to help brave Ruby

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Caring Sunderland schoolchildren have raised nearly £7,000 to help their fellow pupil Ruby Dunn, eight, in her brave fight against a brain tumour.

Every child at South Hylton Primary Academy gathered to watch Ruby, her mam Danielle, dad Joseph and little brother Joseph junior let go a balloon launch on the school playing field, taking message of her fight for health far and wide.

Each of the 945 balloons launched represents fund raising efforts by the pupils and their families to support Ruby who is undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat an aggressive brain tumour.

Just six weeks after being diagnosed, Ruby has had an operation to remove 90% of the tumour – and she now faces eight months of intensive treatment to eradicate the remaining 10% under the supervision of specialists at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and Freeman Hospital.

Ruby has been diagnosed with a Grade 4 Astrocytoma – an extremely rare cancer in children and more commonly found in middle-aged adults.

She suffered from headaches, high temperatures and vomiting and her parents were given the devastating news by doctors after an MRI scan that she had a brain tumour.

The cash raised for Ruby by her school friends will help her parents – who have put their lives and jobs on hold while they devote their time to caring for their daughter, visiting hospital five times every week.

Mam Danielle Wanless, 30, who works for Gala Bingo in Pallion, said: “The day that we found out our whole world just turned upside down.”

Dad Joseph Dunn, 36, a construction worker, said: “It doesn’t seem real and there’s a part of you which doesn’t take it all in. You cry when you’ve got to cry but we keep strong in front of Ruby. We are now just concentrating on trying to get Ruby well.”

Ruby is still attending school when she feels well enough and has astounded her family and friends with her energy and upbeat attitude. The family from Pennywell, Sunderland, hope to use some of the funds raised for a family holiday in Majorca if Ruby is well enough.

“We just couldn’t believe what the school has done for Ruby, it’s unreal,” said Danielle. “It’s heart breaking what’s happened but heart warming in the way everyone has helped out. It’s very emotional.”

Joseph added: “We never pictured ourselves being in this position, but how fast people come together and help you is absolutely unreal.”

The Ruby Red balloons for the launch were specially chosen by the school to reflect Ruby’s first name and her initials – RED, Ruby Elise Dunn.

Ruby’s Year 3 form teacher Lisa Collins, said: “When we found out it was such a shock. We knew the family would have to stop working and the expense of the travelling they would have to do for Ruby and we knew we had to help.

“We made a target of £1,000 by getting sponsorship of at least £2 for each balloon and the response we’ve had and generosity of our parents and wider community has been quite overwhelming.”

South Hylton Primary School joins Laidlaw Schools Trust

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Sunderland’s South Hylton Primary Academy is celebrating joining the growing Laidlaw Schools Trust (LST) with a determination to deliver even more educational opportunities for its pupils.

The popular academy is home to 334 pupils aged between two and 11 drawn from the surrounding Pennywell, Highfield, Pallion and Ford Estate areas, with 34 staff teaching children from nursery years upwards.

South Hylton Primary is the second Sunderland school to join the thriving LST in this school year – near neighbour Academy 360 in Pennywell joining the trust and its three schools in Newcastle.

For headteacher Julie Cort, joining LST is the chance to share expertise with Academy 360 and fellow trust members, to ensure its pupils enjoy the best possible start in life.

“It presents us the opportunity of working closely as part of an exciting multi-academy trust with proven success in enhancing children’s lives through enriched curriculums,” said Julie.

“The majority of our children go on to Academy 360 so it made good sense that our children were given the same experiences and opportunities - and it allows our staff to work more closely with Academy 360 to follow through our pupils’ journeys.

“We have had positive feedback from parents who trust our judgement as a good school – they have heard about the success of the Laidlaw Schools Trust and how sponsor Lord Laidlaw creates opportunities through his generosity that other schools don’t get.”

South Hylton Primary’s last three Ofsted reports have all rated the academy as ‘good’, with its latest assessment just four months ago.

Jane Spence, LST Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted that South Hylton Primary Academy is joining our growing family of schools.

“We look forward to having a hub of schools in Sunderland in the same way that we have a hub in Newcastle. All the headteachers and staff across the trust work closely together and the children have joint activities and opportunities to learn together.”

In 2008, Lord Laidlaw set up the Laidlaw Schools Trust to give young people in disadvantaged areas of the North East life chances they otherwise would not have.

He invests in improving trust academy facilities and extra-curricular activities.

The LST now educates more than 4,000 children in five North East schools – Excelsior Academy, Thomas Walling and Atkinson Road Primary Academies in Newcastle and Academy 360 and South Hylton Primary Academy in Sunderland.

For more information, please contact Gordon Arnott, Laidlaw Schools Trust PR manager on 07990 676673; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Welcome from the Headteacher

On behalf of the Governors, the staff, the pupils and myself it gives me great pleasure, as Headteacher, to welcome you to the South Hylton Primary School website.

The school website is a very important tool in celebrating the amazing activities that take place at South Hylton Primary Academy. It is also a vital tool in communicating with parents, carers and visitors as well as providing information about the various policies, practice and procedures in our school. Our new website has been designed to give you a taste of our school as well as providing regular updated information for parents but to find out more please contact the school. 

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