Emily’s cousin inspires charity marathon at Market Harborough school

2016 Lock-in at Robert Smyth Academy in aid of Assert.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
2016 Lock-in at Robert Smyth Academy in aid of Assert. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

When students at the Robert Smyth Academy were looking for a charity for their latest fundraising marathon, Emily Matthews had a great idea.

Emily (16), a pupil at the school, suggested the little-known charity Assert - the Angelman Syndrome Support Education and Research Trust.

Support...back, Emily Matthews, Mike Scully, Stuart Matthews, Tom Matthews 4, Drew Sullivan of Leicester Riders, Michelle Matthews and Jonny Nicholson. Front, Jordie Burke, Lily Mills, Abi York and Alice Tansey before the 2016 Lock-in at Robert Smyth Academy in aid of Assert.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Support...back, Emily Matthews, Mike Scully, Stuart Matthews, Tom Matthews 4, Drew Sullivan of Leicester Riders, Michelle Matthews and Jonny Nicholson. Front, Jordie Burke, Lily Mills, Abi York and Alice Tansey before the 2016 Lock-in at Robert Smyth Academy in aid of Assert. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

The reason is that her own cousin Tom Matthews (four), who lives in Leicester, has the rare genetic condition Angelman Syndrome.

“I suggested it to our Sports Council and they supported it straight away” said A-level student Emily, who lives in Market Harborough.

“So I contacted the charity and then my uncle and aunt and everyone was brilliant.”

The school’s 2016 Lock-In again raised charity money through a mock Olympics that ran through the night last Thursday/Friday.

Students warm up before the 2016 Lock-in.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Students warm up before the 2016 Lock-in. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Team Great Britain’s 2012 Olympics basketball captain and Leicester Riders player Drew Sullivan was there to give the fundraisers his support.

The sports star, who is six feet eight inches tall, inspired the students with stories about his rise to fame and some of his experiences at the London Olympics.

But he said: “This event is so worthwhile...I think you guys should definitely give yourselves a round of applause!”

Drew told the Mail he was pleased to be back in Leicester, because it’s “a great sporting city”.

Students warm up before the 2016 Lock-in.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Students warm up before the 2016 Lock-in. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

He said what made Leicester different from his home city London was its unity.

“Everyone supports Leicester City, Leicester Tigers, Leicester Riders, whereas in London it’s all factions.”

Mike Scully, head of PE at Robert Smyth, said he hoped the round-the-clock event could raise more than £2,000 for charity.

He explained that pupils formed themselves into teams based on the Olympics, to compete in a series of challenges across the 24 hours.

Around 130 pupils took part in what was the ninth annual charity Lock-In at the school.

Emily’s uncle (Tom’s father), Stuart Matthews, said: “This event is absolutely amazing. We’re so proud of Emily for thinking of us, and she organised getting in touch with the charity herself.”

Angelman Syndrome is a rare chromosome disorder that causes severe learning difficulties.

Stuart later told the fundraising students: “Tom was diagnosed in 2014, and we’re still trying to get our heads around what it will mean to be honest.

“But we do know Tom will never be able to live an independent life.

“At the moment he says four words and uses simple signs to communicate. And now I hope he’s going to say thank you...”

Tom happily obliged, blowing a kiss at the assembled students.