As children in the UK settle back into the new school term, we've launched a film featuring actor Jodie Whittaker, comedian and actor Hugh Dennis, footballer Steven Caulker, singer Eno Williams of Ibibio Sound Machine and comedian Kelly Convey. Here they share their fondest school memories as part of our back to school appeal, calling on the public to give children living in some of the poorest countries the chance to go to school through child sponsorship.
The stars fronting the appeal share their personal stories from school, and describe how the experience ignited their passion for what they do today.
There are currently 263 million children and young people worldwide who are out of school. Girls are more likely than boys to never set foot in a classroom, with 15 million girls of primary school age never having the opportunity to learn to read or write.
Actor Jodie Whittaker said:
“I loved being part of this film for ActionAid, and having a moment of nostalgia about school life and where my love for acting began.”
Every child should have the chance to go to school, to learn and to have the opportunity to choose a path and a future they desire. By sponsoring a child I know that they have been given a chance to have a better start in life, and have the opportunity to ignite their passions and dream of a future where they can be whatever they want to be.”
Actor and comedian Hugh Dennis said:
“My parents sponsored a child when I was growing up and they seemed a very real part of our lives, so when I had enough money to start sponsoring off my own bat it seemed like a natural thing to do. That was over 30 years ago.
I really believe that sponsorship works and have even been to see it in action myself.”
Footballer Steven Caulker said:
“I was always into football from a young age and started playing Sunday League when I was six. It is thanks to my school in Hounslow that I got put forward for the Borough and was then scouted by Tottenham Hotspur FC.”
I spent many happy years there and have great memories of playing professional football. I have my school to thank for getting me there”.
Singer Eno Williams of Ibibio Sound Machine said:
“I went to Federal Govt. Girls College in Calabar, which is the capital of Cross River state in Nigeria. We had a literary society in which we used to create plays and singing performances — this was a place where I really enjoyed developing my arty side outside of academics. On holidays my mum would often encourage my sisters and I to make music. We ended up playing small events so I guess that was the beginning of my musical journey.”
It allowed me to dream and expand my imagination, I think this was when the seed was planted to pursue music.
Comedian Kelly Convey said:
“One year, I entered the school talent show with three friends to perform Spice Girls — I was Sporty because I already had the tracksuit and absolutely no singing or dancing skills — I was perfect! I was so awful that the crowd couldn’t help but laugh. The more they laughed the worse I got. I knew there and then that making people laugh was the best feeling in the entire world.”
How sponsorship helps children
Through our child sponsorship programme, which runs across 27 countries, children have the chance to go to school, and obtain essentials like desks, books, food, and drinking water.
For as little as 65p a day people can sponsor a child and help their whole community in a long-term and sustainable way, with education, clean water, healthcare, agricultural programmes and income generation schemes.
ActionAid’s Chief Executive, Girish Menon said:
“Every child deserves the chance to go to school, no matter where they’re born.”
School is not just about learning to read and write — it gives children the chance to build friendships, confidence, create memories and have hope for a full and bright future.
“We are thrilled that these incredible names within their professions shared their own memories for this film, to help us encourage the public to sponsor a child.
“By sponsoring a child you can transform a child’s life and give them a chance to have the opportunities that an education can bring.”