The family of tragic teacher Ann Maguire say they have been “overwhelmed” by the support shown for a charitable fund that is starting to make a difference to good causes in Leeds.
Community projects and individuals in the city have received more than £10,000 in the first round of grants from the Ann Maguire Arts Education Fund, set up after the mother-of-two was stabbed to death at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Halton Moor on April 28 last year.
Managed by Leeds Community Foundation, the fund has received more than £80,000 in donations.
A gala held in Mrs Maguire’s memory last month and a children’s fun run last week are expected to have raised thousands of pounds more.
The fund aims to help young people make the most of their talents in fields such as music, drama, language and dance.
Mrs Maguire’s daughter, Kerry, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of people not only in Leeds but across the UK who have supported the fund.
“Our mother was passionate about inspiring young people to reach their goals, so we are delighted that the first round of grants has now been distributed.
“We hope that the grants will not only allow individuals to follow their dreams but create new and exciting opportunities for a range of young people to get involved with the arts.”
Sally-Anne Greenfield, chief executive of Leeds Community Foundation, said it was a “privilege” to be able to help the Maguire family.
She added: “For the family it means that they can commemorate Ann by helping people do things that she was really interested in. It gives them something positive to focus on.
“They’re really interested in the projects and taking it quite seriously.
“What amazed everybody was the response from Leeds. Everybody rallied round and clubbed together and was very supportive.
“It’s in circumstances like this that you find people pull together.”
Leeds-based groups benefiting from the first funding round include:
*East Street Arts, which will use its £1,500 grant to run a project called the Slam Poetry Factor.
Around 150 pupils from John Smeaton Academy and East Leeds Academy will take part in performance poetry workshops designed to help them deal with conflict.
East Street Arts relationship manager Nicola Greenan said: “I grew up in east Leeds and I know what an impact Ann Maguire’s death had on the community.
“She seemed such a lovely lady and hopefully we can do our bit to help young people from the area in her memory.”
*Voluntary organisation SNAPS, which will use its £675 grant to continue holding dance classes at Penny Field School in Meanwood as part of its work with children who have special needs.
SNAPS co-founder Sam Grundy said: “The classes are really popular and the funding we have received should cover their costs for a full year or so.
“We get even the most profoundly disabled of our children dancing along in their wheelchairs, it’s a great experience for them.
“We feel very proud to be benefiting from part of the legacy of Ann Maguire and we think it’s lovely that the funds are being used for something that puts a smile on young people’s faces.”
*Youth Theatres Leeds, which will use its £1,500 grant as it puts on a Shakespearean production this summer at the prestigious Howard Assembly Room venue in the city.
Director Sara Allkins said: “It’s about giving [children] the best artistic experience they can have and I think that fits in with the legacy of Ann Maguire.”
Meanwhile, students and staff at Corpus Christi marked the first anniversary of Mrs Maguire’s death in “private and dignified” fashion today.
A Mass was held in remembrance of the hugely-popular 61-year-old’s life before a one-minute silence and the release of 250 balloons in the school colours of purple and gold.
Mrs Maguire, who worked at Corpus Christi for more than 40 years, was stabbed seven times by teenage pupil Will Cornick while taking a lesson.
Cornick was jailed at Leeds Crown Court in November and told he must serve a minimum of 20 years behind bars.