FOUR kind-hearted S5 pupils from North Berwick High School have won a competition to boost a local charity by thousands of pounds.

The pupils won their school’s Young Philanthropist Initiative (YPI) competition, which saw them researching a social issue and delivering a presentation on it, with the best presentation receiving a £3,000 grant.

The four pupils – Mairi Johnston, Jamila Sode-Woodhead, Kristina Grant and Emilee Large – donated their prize money to Muirfield Riding Therapy, where two of the group volunteer at a Friday children’s session.

Their presentation was about the West Fenton-based charity, which offers horse riding therapy to children and adults with various disabilities.

Kristina said: “The highlight of the YPI course was the final round – winning the prize money for our charity made me feel very accomplished and as though I could make a real difference for the community and those who use the charity.

“I think schools should educate students more on disabilities and how they can help those who have them in everyday life. Businesses should also be encouraged to try and make their buildings and products more disability friendly.

“Not only would this help those with disabilities with shopping and other activities but it would increase their customer numbers.”

Duncan Binnie, religious, moral and philosophical studies teacher at the school and the school’s YPI lead teacher, said: “The YPI provides an excellent opportunity for pupils to engage with their local community in a meaningful and constructive way.

“By interacting directly with grassroots charities, pupils develop important communication skills as well as share information about the valuable work these organisations are doing, often with little funding or resources. 

“As a school we have heard from last year’s winners (Beyond Boundaries East Lothian), who are continuing to move from strength to strength and are very grateful for the £3,000 funding that last year’s S5 winners managed to secure. 

“Muirfield Riding Therapy is another example of a fantastic organisation committed to invaluable work within our community. To have a group of our own pupils campaign successfully within the school and to win important funding for them is a real credit to themselves and the school!

“A big well done to all the effort that has gone into this year’s project across S5 and thanks to our panel of judges: depute headteacher Robert Jones, our head boy and head girl, and Roy Symon from North Berwick Rotary Club.”

Susan Law, service co-ordinator at Muirfield Riding Therapy and coach at the session the girls volunteer at, said: “It’s brilliant. We have had groups of children apply for YPI funding before but they have not been successful; this time they have been.

“Two of the group volunteers for us, they are committed and really work hard. They are passionate about the work we do and always go the extra mile.”

Most of the money will be spent on a new dementia cafe, with the rest invested in new hygienic toys and storage for the children’s session.