Fourth Shaftesbury Hill Added To Abbey School Pupils’ Three Peaks Challenge

Pupils of Shaftesbury’s Abbey Primary School will face a physical test this spring. There’s an additional climb to their Three Peaks Challenge, now in its third year. Parent and fundraiser Sarah Junor spoke with Alfred’s Keri Jones.

Scaling three of the most distinctive hills in and around Shaftesbury has become a tradition among staff, pupils and parents of the St James Street school. “The three peaks are Melbury, Duncliffe and Hambledon,” explained Sarah. “We have given the children fifteen weeks to climb one, two or three of them. All three would be ideal.”

Sarah Junor and her daughter Betsy at the top of Gold Hill

Sarah says the children are given a task to perform at each peak. “Each one they climb, they take a photograph at the top and bring the picture into school or send it to school. We can print it off and we mount them on three big posters of each hill that we have on a big display board. The children are then awarded five house points, so it becomes not only a personal challenge but also a house challenge.”

70% of pupils participated in last year’s sponsored event and it’s hoped that, by adding Gold Hill, more children will join the challenge. “There are always some families who just can’t take it up, because of work commitments or logistics and geography. We decided this year that we would include a climb up Gold Hill, given that it is on the doorstep of Abbey School. We will probably do it on a school afternoon,” said Sarah. “As many teachers as we can get together and any parents who want to come along are welcome. We get all the children to go up Gold Hill, back around the playpark, and do it again two more times. There will be three climbs up Gold Hill for the whole school.”

The Gold Hill event will take place after Easter. “Right at the end of the whole thing, after the May half term, when all of the sponsorship is in, we pick an afternoon to come and have some fun at the playpark. There are always children who get left behind because they haven’t taken part, so this year everybody will be included,” Sarah said.

Abbey Primary School

In 2019, the children raised around £1,000 towards a sensory garden at the school. Sarah says this year’s money will go to the school library. Pupils were encouraged to read 1,000 books over 100 days last year. Sarah says the success of that challenge shows the need for more books and enhanced library facilities. “It was amazing how many books they read. A library upgrade is overdue. The school is growing. We need more books,” she said.

Sarah is urging parents to get involved. She’s says she enjoyed joining in and seeing more of the area. “When we did this three years ago, for the first time, I had never been up Hambledon Hill – and I’ve lived here for a very long time,” said Sarah. “We have amazing hills and when you get to the top, the view was spectacular. And it’s free. It’s on our doorstep, its exercise, its fresh air and it’s good for the soul.”