Stephen Hindmarch from Hellens Group pictured handing over laptops to Skerne Park Academy

A host of Darlington business have answered Peter Gibson MP’s appeal to provide laptops for children at Skerne Park Academy.

The Darlington MP made the appeal after learning that 30 pupils from the primary school on Coleridge Gardens did not have adequate equipment to learn remotely during the third national coronavirus lockdown.

Darlington and locally-based businesses, Hellens Group, Latimer Hinks Solicitors, Recognition PR, and Wharton Construction, have answered the call and, between them, have agreed to source and donate 12 brand new devices to the school.

Gavin Cordwell-Smith, chief executive of local developer, Hellens Group, which is donating five laptops said: “We are delighted to be able to support the local community in any way we can. Community is at the heart of our work at Hellens Group and children are at the heart of the community.”

Elizabeth Armstrong, managing director at Latimer Hinks Solicitors, which is donating three laptops to Skerne Park Primary and a further three to Darlington Education Village, added: “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been felt nowhere more keenly, than by children and young people who have been asked to sacrifice so much. It’s essential that they are, at least, afforded the opportunity to continue their learning. We are very pleased to be able to help.”

Matthew Wharton, Director of Wharton Construction, donating two laptops, said: “We are pleased to be donating laptops to help primary school students in Darlington to keep connected and be able to continue to learn throughout lockdown.”

Peter Gibson, MP for Darlington, said: “Thank you to all these from the bottom of my heart, because I know that it’s going to make a difference to those kids in what is one of the most challenged parts of our area.

“I’ve been working very closely with the schools and the council and a variety of other organisations to try and tackle this problem and discussed it in parliament last week.

“Children and young people across Darlington are being asked to sacrifice so many things during this lockdown – it’s vital that preserving the life chances afforded by education is not one of them.”

The donation was also recognised in a Building Stronger Communities in Post-Pandemic Britain report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration.