A 16-year-old Northampton College student who wasn’t sure if she would see out the week when she was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition has been featured as part of this year’s Children in Need campaign.
Aaliyah Aries, who is studying Level 3 Health and Social Care, starred on BBC Countryfile’s Children in Need Ramble, leading a team of volunteers to boost awareness of the annual fundraiser.
The teenager is a staunch supporter of two charities part-funded by Children in Need, which have helped her since she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy four years ago.
The condition means Aaliyah’s heart is three times the size it should be, meaning the valves don’t shut properly and the heart never relaxes, stopping the blood from pumping around the body effectively.
Aaliyah said: “It means I suffer from tiredness, I feel lightheaded and dizzy when I move around and feel breathless. I’m waiting for a heart transplant but that’s not a cure, it will only last for 15 to 20 years.
“The Keech Hospice has been great for me, the people are really easy to talk to and I’ve been able to enjoy music and art therapy sessions. I’m also on the youth board of Cardiomyopathy UK. Both charities are supported by Children in Need and that funding is vital, so I was delighted to have the chance to tell my story to the nation on Countryfile.”
Aaliyah, who previously enjoyed high-energy activities such as dancing and roller skating before her diagnosis, was initially taken into hospital after a bout of tonsillitis.
Mum Sabrina said: “We went in there thinking she had a bit of a cold and needed some antibiotics only to discover she had a life-threatening condition where she might not see out the week. I just want Aaliyah to outlive me. Every time she goes into hospital now, there’s a part of me worried she’s not going to come back out but I know there’s nothing that can stop that daughter of mine. She’s a superhero.”
Aaliyah is thriving at Booth Lane, enjoying her studies and relishing the chance to promote her charitable causes to her peers.
Her tutor at Northampton College, Naresh Lane, said: “We’re incredibly proud of Aaliyah, she’s an inspiration to us all. It’s vital to raise awareness of conditions such as cardiomyopathy and stress the importance of continued funding from sources such as Children in Need.”
Students at Northampton College’s Daventry campus are buzzing with excitement as they get set to welcome thousands of bees into four new hives as part of a wildlife conservation project.
Youngsters on the ‘Stepping Up’ programme elected to learn more about bees and beekeeping for their course and, having already created a pond and planted pollinators, they are preparing for the arrival of thousands of bees to start their own apiary.
The Daventry Bee Project will involve students from across the curriculum, with art students designing and selling a range of Christmas cards to raise money and carpentry students making the strands for the hives to sit on.
Estates co-ordinator Chris Thompson, a keen beekeeper in his spare time, is assisting teaching staff with the practical aspects of the project, and said he was thrilled to see the enthusiasm from students involved in the campaign.
He added: “Our students wanted to learn more about bees and other pollinators, and what the college could do to help them. They had heard about the plight that native bees are in due to the use of pesticides, loss of habitat and the effects of imported disease so we set up the Daventry Bee Project and converted an area within the grounds into a bee conservation area.
“Students planted pollinator-friendly plants and trees, made a wildlife pond, constructed a bee hotel and created a variety of habitats to encourage nesting.
“This year, we are creating a honeybee apiary with four beehives. Students are learning about honeybees, their lifecycle and their importance in the pollination of food crops. It’s proving a highly engaging way of learning about something that really matters to our students.
“All college students will have the opportunity to learn about the importance of bees in the natural world and in human food production, and will be able to learn the basics of beekeeping, as it is crucial young people are being encouraged to take up the craft of beekeeping for the future.”
The bees are due to arrive at the campus next spring, and students will wear made-to-measure beekeeping suits to ensure they can safely handle the insects. Honey produced by the bees will then be sold to help the project become self-sustainable for the future.
Student Naomi Fordham, aged 17, said: “I never expected to be doing beekeeping as part of my college course but it’s really opened my eyes to how it’s all done. It’s been really interesting.”
Tiernan Davy, aged 18, added: “It’s good to learn something different and get out of the classroom into the outside world. I’ve enjoyed the challenge and I’m looking forward to getting the bees into their hives.”
The Mayor of Daventry, together with the Leader of the Town Council, will be visiting Daventry campus on Thursday, November 28, for a tour of the conservation area and hive set-up while members of the public are invited along the following day as part of the Woodland Trust’s national ‘Climate Fightback’ event to plant saplings and enjoy hot chocolate and cakes.
An online crowdfunding campaign has been set up to raise £1,500 for the initial costs of the Daventry Bee Project. Donations can be made here.
Hospitality and catering students at Northampton College joined forces with a team of top chefs to stage a charity dinner aimed at raising awareness of the importance of mental health.
The event, held at Booth Lane, saw dozens of diners enjoy a lavish five course feast while raising money for the mental health charity Mind, with each chef responsible for a different course.
Students helped with front of house and waiting duties while they also created a palette cleanser of burnt lemon slushie with gin, coriander, charred lemon and smoky rosemary.
Curriculum manager for catering, Phil Martin, said: “Our students thrive under pressure and this was a big night for them – a chance to show a number of highly-respected professional chefs just how well they can cope on the big stage.
“It was a brilliant experience for all of them and they will have learnt a lot. The food was absolutely first-class and having the opportunity to work alongside such an esteemed group of chefs will do wonders for their confidence.
“Mental health is a huge issue so we are delighted to have been able to host such a fabulous occasion and raise awareness of the important work Mind do to help people in their hour of need.”
The event, held on Wednesday, November 6, was hosted by Burnt Lemon Catering’s James Peck, star of the recent BBC series The Chef’s Brigade. He prepared the main course of beef shin with marrowbone and apricot arancini.
Other chefs involved in the banquet included Robert Wells of Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Ben Davis of Cuisine Culture, Alan Paton from the Craft Guild of Chefs, Daniel Britten of Britten for Food and Matt Green from Explore Chocolate.
Among the guests was Masterchef judge and Daily Telegraph food critic William Sitwell, who posted on Instagram to say: “Congrats to the students of Northampton College for a great dinner tonight masterminded by the brilliant James Peck.”
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