Congregation donates £5,000 to buy laptops for pupils

An Aberdeenshire church has donated more than £5,000 to a secondary school to buy Chromebook laptops for pupils.

Banchory West Church members raised the sum in just 12 days to help youngsters without access to technology engage with online lessons from their homes.

Minister, Rev Tony Stephen, said staff at Banchory Academy were "taken aback" when the cheque was handed over which will cover the cost of at least 18 machines.

Rev Tony Stephen.

He said members were very enthusiastic about providing young people with "practical" help during the Coronavirus lockdown which has led to school closures.

Mr Stephen said: "We always want to help Banchory Academy as the teachers and staff support young people in our community.

"As soon as lockdown started we got in touch to ask what we could do and the head teacher Judith Wight told us that there were kids struggling to access online learning and a lack of equipment was the biggest barrier.

"So we discussed it as a congregation and everyone agreed that the most practical thing that we could do was donate money to the school to buy Chromebook laptops which are apparently very effective."

Huge difference

Mr Stephen, who is a chaplain at the school, said the idea caught people's imagination.

"Everyone wanted to help because young people in our community are a priority for us," he explained.

"When we handed over the cheque, the staff were absolutely taken aback and said it will make a huge difference to kids who might struggle otherwise."

Mr Stephen said donations were still coming in and would be passed to the school in due course.

Online engagement rockets

Reflecting on how Banchory West Church has been using technology to bring people together during the lockdown, Mr Stephen said: "Our online engagement has rocketed and it has been a real joy to witness.

"We have been using the video conferencing platform, Zoom, because we want to be meeting 'face to face' and allowing interaction, as opposed to just the minister reading a sermon."