You've been flocked by Friends of St Mary's Yate!

Key summary

Cast your mind back to pre-lockdown – it’s a wet and windy February half term. In one corner of South Gloucestershire, things are brightening up. People were waking up and opening the curtains, and getting a surprise – there’s a flock of flamingos in the garden! Sarah and Ellen from the Friends of St Mary’s Yate tell us more…

“It all started as a madcap idea by our then Vice Chair, Jenny” says Ellen. “It developed into a group of us driving around our town late at night scooping up flamingos and then ‘flocking’ local residents, so that they'd wake up with a flock of 10 pink plastic flamingos adorning their front garden.” Jenny had helped to organise several fantastic events for the Friends recently, so Ellen and the team knew that Yate would be in for a treat!

The Flocking team used their PTA Events website for the organisation of the event, as they’d used it before with great success. This meant that signing up to be ‘flocked’ was an entirely opt in activity and the GDPR aspects were well taken care of and secure. Ellen adds “we also approached local businesses to sponsor the flocks and we included their logos on each of the eight separate flocks, meaning that the idea made money straight away”.

Yate local residents signed up and paid £5 to be ‘flocked’ through the PTA Events website and as the flamingos were in town for two weeks, it was a surprise when the flamingos were going to land! Ellen’s son, who helped install the flamingos, explain how lovely it was to see other people’s smiles and bring some happiness to the community:

“It was really cool to stay up super late driving around Yate finding the houses. My mum really struggled to see the house numbers but I could see them easily. It was fun to stealthily sneak out to put the flamingos in our friends’ gardens,” says William, “Knowing they would wake up in the morning and get a big surprise made me feel really happy and knowing we were making money for school made going out in the wind and rain worthwhile! Doing the birthday flock was great as we got to see our friend be surprised, we also flocked my friend’s Nan, she was so happy.”

You can see more of what The Friends of St Mary’s got up to on this video from BBC Bristol. This has helped raise the profile of the school, which is in one of the lowest funded school areas in the country.

Having said this, the team have an excellent track record for fundraising over the last few years, with a regular community 5K run (this year’s has gone virtual), a scarecrow trail and a break the rules day to name a few. The innovative, fun and memorable events that the team have put on means they’ve raised £15-18,000 per year, and they’ve raised roughly £5,000 so far this year. This means that the Friends have been able to fund initiatives such as friendship benches in the school playground, IT equipment, school trips, a sheltered bike area and outdoor learning spaces.

The St Mary’s Friends top tips for success…

  • Make good use of your PTA Events website and if you’re not sure of anything, call the Parentkind Membership Support Team on 0300 123 5460
  • Contacting the local press and sharing widely on social media is a great way to encourage more sign-ups. Encourage people to post their ‘flocking’ online!
  • Having a good relationship between the school and PTA is really handy
  • Work with local businesses to gain support – they’re likely to be keen to support local charitable causes
  • When you’re dealing with people’s personal details (addresses etc) make sure you’re aware of the GDPR regulations
  • Make the logistics of your event a family affair and get the children involved – teamwork makes the dream work!
  • Having a glue gun to fix wonky flamingo legs is always a bonus!

Fact File
  • PTA name: Friends of St Mary's School, Yate
  • School name: St Mary's Primary School
  • Age range: 4-11
  • Country: England
  • School type: Primary

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