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Sheffield High teacher recognised for charity work

Sheffield High School teacher and intrepid fundraiser Clare Wallace has recently been recognised for her work at the South Yorkshire High Sheriff’s Awards evening.

Clare was nominated for the award by High School Headmistress Valerie Dunsford for her extraordinary efforts raising money for her favourite charity ‘Aspire’ which supports people with spinal injuries.

“Clare is someone who enriches the lives of others, whether it be through the fundraising work she is involved in for several charities or through inspiring others to get involved with her”, said Valerie. “She is an inspiration to all who meet her; her enthusiasm and energy are infectious and her commitment to enriching the lives of others cannot be faulted,” she added. Clare has already been recognised by the school for her charity fundraising efforts when it presented her with its first-ever coveted gold Go4It award in December 2008.

From the high number of nominations this year for the “Fundraiser of the Year” Award, Clare reached the last three and was highly commended. The winners were announced at the Awards Reception at the Lifewise Centre in Hellaby, Rotherham. The High Sheriff made seven awards in all, including Best Community Project Award, Unsung Hero Award, awards for Volunteer of the Year and for Young Volunteer of the Year and a Service to the Community Award.

For a number of years, Clare, who is Head of German and who also teaches singing at the High School, has been tireless in her efforts to raise money for charity. Her previous exploits have included running the Sheffield Half Marathon with a school team of staff, pupils and parents in 2008, raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Macmillan Nurses.

During her summer holidays, Clare regularly teams up with two other cellists to take part in various rounds of ‘extreme’ cello activities, playing their cellos in unusual recital locations across the North of England. The trio raise money for their chosen charities of Aspire and PACT (Parents’ Association of Children with Tumours and Leukaemia) is a Sheffield-based charity which provides a range of support services for families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer. 

Her challenges with the ‘Extreme Cellists’ have included playing underground in the Blue John Cavern in Derbyshire, at various locations on a walk from Manchester to Sheffield and on the rooftops of most of the 42 Anglican cathedrals in England. They have even played on the tops of the highest four peaks of the British Isles! In the summer of 2010 Clare and her colleagues took their cellos on Alfred Wainwright’s famous Coast-to-Coast walk, a 192-mile trek from St Bee’s Head to Robin Hood’s Bay, raising over £6,000 in the process. They have featured a number of times on television and radio and have so far raised over £20,000 for ASPIRE and various other charities.

Last year Clare took part in her latest major fundraising adventure – running the Virgin London Marathon with her cello on her back! Clare had an exciting week-end at the Marathon which included a stay at a top hotel along with some of the elite athletes, sponsored by Virgin, attending a press conference on the Friday and being interviewed live by former triple jump champion, Jonathan Edwards on BBC1 in the build-up to the race on Sunday morning. The ‘Extreme Cellists’ originally hoped to raise £7,000 by running the London Marathon but finally achieved over £14,000!

“I was really honoured to be nominated and I also feel very humbled that anyone should think that my efforts were worthy of an award,” said Clare. “I had a wonderful evening,” she added, “and lots of people congratulated me on my efforts, including a lady who said she felt honoured just to be sitting near me! I’m glad that I’ve been able to help so many charities with my cello playing and also all the fund-raising events that I do with our school choirs and ensembles.”

South Yorkshire’s High Sheriff, Julie Kenny, has herself been an active volunteer in public life over many years, from being national commissioner with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, to school governor and the first woman chair and director of the British Security Industry Association, contributions recognized with a CBE in 2002.

“The High Sheriff Awards are intended to honour people and projects across South Yorkshire who have made their local community a better place or changed the lives of others,” said Julie. “Since my appointment last April I have already visited dozens of projects around the region and seen the tremendous difference the time, skills and effort of selfless volunteers brings to the life of the region.”

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