Big-hearted students got over their Prom cancellation disappointment – by donating funds to help a West Cumbrian charity.

The former Year 11 students at The Whitehaven Academy were forced to ditch their celebratory party last year when coronavirus hit.

Instead, they decided to put the money they raised and collected to good use in their local community by supporting Hospice at Home West Cumbria.

The generous donation of £2,500 has delighted staff at Hospice at Home, which has seen its fund-raising efforts hit hard by lockdown restrictions.

Students Caitlin Miller, Carenza Curwen and Lily-Beth J Smith said the year group decided to help others after the original Prom celebration planned for Whitehaven Golf Club last June had to be scrapped.

Caitlin said: “We were disappointed not to have a Prom to say goodbye to everyone, but the money has actually gone to a better cause, so it doesn’t feel so bad.”

“We became sceptical about the Prom going ahead during the first lockdown. Then later, when we got our GCSE results we realised everyone was moving on with their lives and going to college, sixth form or apprenticeships.

“We saw that the charity shop had to close because of the pandemic and knew they must be struggling, so it’s good to help.”

The money had been raised by students hosting bake sales, packing bags at Morrison’s and other events. It was combined with donations from The Whitehaven Academy’s annual Christmas Jumper Day to give the charity a boost.

Gemma Bell, Community Fundraiser at the Workington-based charity, said the donation could not have come at a better time.

She said: “It’s a lovely gesture from the students at The Whitehaven Academy to think about us. We have honestly been overwhelmed by their generosity.

“We want to thank them and for them to know just how much this will mean in terms of providing care for people in our local community who most desperately need it. Their families and their school should be very proud.

“Hospice at Home West Cumbria needs to raise just over £1m each year so we can provide our vital services. Our finances have been hugely affected after having to cancel a number of our fundraising events due to Covid-19.”

The Whitehaven Academy is an ongoing supporter of the charity, participating in its annual Christmas Jumper Day for the last couple of years.

Headteacher Nigel Youngman said: “No one should underestimate the generosity of spirit of the young people in this community. These teenagers put aside their own disappointment and made the needs of others their priority. It’s a wonderful gesture and we’re extremely proud of them all.”

Listen to Caitlin speaking to BBC Radio Cumbria: