A young volunteer is embarking on the trip of a lifetime to help build a new school in India.
Cardinal Allen Catholic High School pupil Aliyah Rayner, 14, has been awarded the Virgin Atlantic Be The Change Volunteer Trip Scholarship and jets off to Rajasthan at the end of July for the two and a half week visit.
Aliyah has always volunteered to help charities since her first year at high school and plays an active role in her school community – but she has never done anything quite like this before.
The trip will take in the vibrant Indian culture, its history and way of life and Aliyah will spend time in a rural village, as well as participate in interactive workshops to explore global issues.
Aliyah says it was her teacher, Andrew Harding, who first encouraged her to get involved with the school’s eco group which inspired a love for volunterring and charity work.
Since then she has taken part in many different charity events such as the school’s Father Christmas collection, the Walk for Malala and sleeping over at school for charity.
Getting accepted to go to Rajasthan was not an easy process. There’s a complex application process to go through before Virgin choose 30 young people from 30 different schools across the UK.
Even though Aaliyah is the only student from this area who will be present at the event, she says she’s not phased by it all.
Aliyah said: “We have a
Facebook group with all of the other members, where we can openly discuss everything about the trip to India.
“I am really looking forward to it.
“I enjoy meeting new people and I will also be spending my birthday there too in a completely different
When she returns, Aliyah will travel to Wembley Arena for a post trip event and has been invited to speak in front of thousands of people to share her experiences of India.
Mr Harding said: “I’m really proud of Aliyah, she has done so well.”
Virgin’s strict criteria for the trip require applicants who can demonstrate commitment to raising awareness in their local community, ideally already working to improve their community, and who can use the India experience to motivate and inspire others to take action.