Retailer’s £100,000 gift to keep Peterborough children learning in lockdown

A new £600,000 fund raising campaign to give hundreds of Peterborough school children access to online lessons has been given a £100,000 boost by a city fashion retailer.

By Paul Grinnell
Thursday, 11th February 2021, 5:00 am
Jonathan Lewis, PCC Director of Education receives a £100,000 cheque for laptops for schools from Yours Clothing founder and CEO Andrew Kiliingsworth  and HR director Kay Clay EMN-210902-123957009
Jonathan Lewis, PCC Director of Education receives a £100,000 cheque for laptops for schools from Yours Clothing founder and CEO Andrew Kiliingsworth and HR director Kay Clay EMN-210902-123957009

Yours Clothing owner AK Retail Holding has made the donation to help ease the desperate situation facing more than 3,000 children who do not have a laptop, PC or access to the internet to access online learning and are in danger of falling behind their classmates.

Now Andrew Killingsworth, founder and owner of AK Retail, based in Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, where it employs 1,000 plus staff, is urging other businesses to help raise at least the £305 needed per laptop.

The Digital Drive campaign has been jointly launched by Peterborough City Council to provide the urgently needed funds to supply laptops and internet access to help those youngsters who cannot access school learning during the third national Covid lockdown.

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Mr Killingsworth, a lifelong Peterborough resident, said he was delighted the hard work of the firm’s employees had enabled them to help local children from under-privileged backgrounds.

He said: “After finding out the desperate situation that local children are facing it made me want to do something to help.

“Through no fault of their own, not all children are able to have what many take for granted and I am passionate about giving opportunities to all Peterborough children to at least be average.

“After starting my own business from a market stall many years ago, I firmly believe that hard work and dedication can, and do, bring results.

“You do not always need to have a high level of education to achieve your dreams, but if you cannot at least be average then finding the opportunity to succeed becomes very difficult.

“It is children in this position that I want to be able to help and we will work with the council to lend the full support of the business family at AK Retail to help give everyone that chance to be average.

“I would like to call on local business leaders, big or small, to see if they can lend their support.

“Not everyone, or their businesses, have survived over this past year, but I’m asking those that can to see if they can help raise at least the £305 per laptop needed to fill this gap in funding and provide the opportunities to give Peterborough children a fair chance of a start that they would not otherwise have had, any amount large or small makes a huge difference.”

Kay Clay, Yours Clothing’s HR director, said: “We are so proud to be able to start this campaign and our initial donation has been paid immediately to the Digital Drive to enable the first batch of PCs to be delivered to the most vulnerable families in the Peterborough area so they can carry on their vital schoolwork during lockdown.”

Coun Lynne Ayres, the council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Thank you to Yours Clothing for their generous donation of £100,000, which will be used to buy around 230 laptops plus 145 4G routers for Peterborough children who do not own a laptop or have internet access.”

Jonathan Lewis, the council’s director of education, said: “Our vision is to ensure every child has access to a laptop whilst studying at home and I’m confidentwe can work together to achieve this goal.”

“The sooner we act the sooner we can provide equipment to children at this very crucial time of their lives.”