A year-10 student from St Cuthbert's Catholic Community College for Business and Enterprise has expressed her delight after winning a Virgin Atlantic Scholarship for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to India.
Renée Pattenden will be one of only 30 British teenagers selected from the thousands that applied to travel to Udaipur in Rajasthan, India, this August as part of a team representing Free the Children, a global charity that promotes empowerment and social activism among young people.
In order to qualify for this dream trip, each entrant had to write a personal statement about why they wanted to take part and what skills and qualities they offer, as well as producing a creative piece inspired by the work of Free The Children. GCSE Fine Art student Renée, one of the founding members of the Cuthies Act, a group set up in the school to highlight global issues and raise funds for Free The Children, chose to create a painting on the topic of education as it is one of the main focuses of Free The Children's work.
Renée said: "I applied because I want to help others who don't have the opportunities that I have. I never want to take my life for granted. I believe everyone should have a school education and enough money to support their family. I couldn't believe it when they called me about the trip; I never dreamed I would get picked. It will be such a special summer."
During her expedition, Renée, who has never visited a non-English speaking country, will get to explore the sights and sounds of Indian culture, meet local young people and engage in a series of workshops analysing global issues. She will also work on a building project related to Free The Children's Adopt A Village programme, assisting in the construction of either a school or a water supply.
"Everyone deserves the basic necessities of food, water, shelter and clothing and I want to help those who struggle to access them. I will be able to share my experiences in India at school in September and develop the work of the Cuthies Act. I hope that by going to India, I can spread the word further and get more people to join us and raise more money. Together we can speak up and light the spark in others," she added.
More information about Free The Children can be found by visiting http://www.freethechildren.co.uk/domestic-programming/virgin-atlantic-volunteer-trip/