Students from Ipswich School have been crowned ‘Smile Heroes’ after their recent fundraising efforts for children’s charity Operation Smile.  

The students were inspired to raise money for children with cleft conditions after joining Operation Smile’s Student Programme last year. Some of the teenagers hiked a marathon and one ran around Ipswich. The group raised more than £2,500 for the charity, enough to pay for 17 life-changing surgeries.

Operation Smile UK launched its first student programme last year at Ipswich School. The programme is designed to educate and inspire the next generation of medical professionals and raise awareness of the charity’s life-saving work around the world.

Chair of the Operation Smile Board Maria Moore, a former dentist, visited Ipswich School last year to launch the programme. She chatted to students about the importance of finding and treating children with cleft conditions sooner, so they don’t have to grow up with the associated stigma and health problems.

At the programme launch, the students were tasked with putting themselves in the shoes of a patient with a cleft condition, to understand the impact an untreated cleft can have on a child’s health and quality of life.  They left the launch inspired to come up with new fundraising ideas and certainly didn’t disappoint.

In March this year, five students set out to hike a marathon, undeterred by damp and overcast weather or the 42 Kilometres ahead of them.  This inspiring group (pictured left to right) Rohan, Sam, Anya, Daisy, and Alice, managed to trek from Lowestoft to Thorpeness in just seven hours. 

Ipswich students Rohan, Sam, Anya, Daisy and Alice
Ipswich students Rohan, Sam, Anya, Daisy and Alice

Year 12 student Henry, not satisfied with walking a marathon, decided to spend a few weeks running more than 60 miles around Ipswich.

Jonathan Spees, Student Programme Manager at Operation Smile said:

“This really is a huge accomplishment, and all of the students who participated in the programme and made the long hike (or run), should feel incredibly proud of what they were able to achieve and the children’s lives they will dramatically and drastically change for the better.”