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The Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust

St. Joseph's Pudsey Teacher Bambisanani Partnership Fundraising

David Farmer runs, swims, cycles and rows his virtual way to Africa to raise funds for Special School

During the St. Mary’s School, Menston visits to South Africa in 2023, as part of the Bambisanani Partnership, the students and staff had their first visit to Thembimfundo School– a school dedicated to children with Special Educational Needs. 

A very special relationship was immediately created with the children relishing the opportunity to learn through movement and sound. Unfortunately, there was a lack of resources to promote these aspects of learning and a teacher on the visit, Matt Harvey, wanted to make a difference and ensure that additional equipment was provided. Tragically, over the summer Mr Harvey passed away and never had the opportunity to raise the required funds.

Mr David Farmer, Deputy Headteacher from St. Joseph’s Pudsey, who was part of the Bambisanani team to visit South Africa took up the mantle and decided to travel virtually from Leeds to Africa to raise funds by running, swimming, cycling and rowing the equivalent distance.

To do this he:

  • Ran from Leeds to Dover – 274 miles
  • Swam from Dover to Calais – 31 miles
  • Cycled from Calais to Gibraltar – 1,442 miles
  • Rowed across the Gibraltar Straits to Africa – 9 miles
  • A remarkable total of 1,756 miles!

The journey has taken almost a year of visiting the gym and pool; recording distances meticulously throughout. Mr Farmer has raised approaching £1,000 with the Gift Aid included, which will enable the Bambisanani Partnership charity to purchase items such as a sound system, play parachutes, netball, football and boccia equipment and jingle balls for the blind. The children at Thembimfundo will enjoy using the equipment and no doubt Mr Harvey will be looking down with a smile on his face.

“This is an absolutely amazing feat of endurance and commitment from David and indicative of his tremendous enthusiasm and commitment for the Bambisanani Partnership. We are now working very closely with the Principal, local community and other agencies in South Africa to develop sport and the creative arts at Thembinfundo Special School. This has become a major focus for the charity and will be a lasting legacy to Matt.”

David Geldart from the Bambisanani Partnership

The Bambisanani Partnership is a unique collaboration developed by St. Mary’s Menston school in Leeds, UK and Mnyakanya High School in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Our partnership uses sport as a major catalyst to develop international understanding, education, health and leadership.

Bambisanani is the Zulu word meaning 'working hand in hand'. 'Bambisanani' aptly encapsulates the philosophy of the partnership which significantly now includes the University of Leeds, Leeds Trinity University and Newcastle College as key members.

The initiative, which began in 2006, has gained both national and international acclaim and is a registered charity that is run entirely by volunteers

Over the past 17 years, more than 16,000 students from the UK and South Africa have participated in Bambisanani Partnership programmes and projects.


Donate to the Bambisanani Partnership