Schools make record donations to Stewart House

The "Under the Sea" mural, commissioned by Friends of Stewart House, provided a marine backdrop as former Wirrimah PS principal John Hetherington presented the Small Schools Award to Russell Lea Infants School students for raising $8179.

NSW public schools raised a record $461,078 for Stewart House last year, through the purchase of merchandise, the annual gold coin envelope drive, and school-based fundraising.

As part of its Stewart House Day celebrations on May 10, the provider of respite care for public education students hosted its annual presentation ceremony to publicly recognise its major donors.

Kings Langley Public School made the largest donation of any NSW public school, raising $11,411 and earning it the Board of Directors Cup P1/P2. Padstow Park Public School was awarded the Board of Directors Cup P3/P4 for the fourth time after raising $6849.

Sydney Girls High School was awarded the Roy Reidy Cup for high schools for the 20th consecutive year after raising $8756 for Stewart House.

The Small Schools Award was presented to Russell Lea Infants School, which raised $56 per person. With almost 150 students, the school donated an impressive $8179. The award was presented by John Hetherington, the former principal of Wirrimah Public School, which won this award more than 10 times before it closed in 2003.

Warren Central School received the Central Schools Shield and the school’s representatives travelled more than 500 kilometres to attend the presentation.

Coreen School received the Specific Purpose School Award, which recognises significant fundraising within schools for specific purposes.

The Public Schools Festival Shield was awarded to the Sutherland Shire Schools Music Festival for raising $15,000. The Bondi School Education Area Showcase was also recognised for raising $10,000.

During the proceedings, volunteer group Friends of Stewart House presented the “Under the Sea” mural, which it had commissioned for the Stewart House dining room. The mural celebrates the group’s 75 years of support for Stewart House.

Friends of Stewart House was formed shortly after Stewart House came into existence and was formerly known as WAWILI — comprising wives of administrators, wives of inspectors and lady inspectors. It is currently undertaking a membership drive and information on the group and how to join can be found on the Stewart House website,

Support Stewart House

Stewart House is a not for profit organisation based at Curl Curl on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Stewart House was formed more than 80 years ago by the NSW departments of Education and Health and the NSW Teachers Federation.

Each year, Stewart House provides 12-day respite care for 1800 children from NSW and ACT public schools who are in need of a break from their current circumstance.

An invitation to attend Stewart House is extended only through public school principals on advice from classroom teachers, school counsellors, other departmental welfare staff, and Department of Family and Community Services officers. Ninety children at any one time, from year 1 to year 10, aged from 6 to 16 years, are eligible to attend at no cost to the children’s primary caregiver.

Each year, Stewart House must raise $2.9 million to operate and relies entirely on charitable donations.

During their stay, children are provided with optometric, dental and medical screening and treatment if necessary, as well as emotional support. This is balanced with health and educational programs and out of school activities to boost their self-esteem and social skills and to promote a healthier lifestyle.

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