Darlington Interactors win another award

The Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form Interactors have been honoured with a Rotary Young Citizens Award 2020


A group of 47 community-minded students, who are members of the Interact club at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in Darlington, are playing a key role in supporting their local NHS and the isolated vulnerable and elderly in their community during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Interactors, who came together in September 2019 supported by Darlington Rotary, have provided a hundred scrub bags for the local Intensive Care Unit and sent cards of thanks, chocolate brownies, moisturisers and hand cream to the medical staff dealing with Covid-19 patients at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

The group have also started their “Snail Mail Sunshine” project sending 1,200 letters to vulnerable and elderly people in Darlington and the North-East area who are isolated due to Coronavirus.  They are sending these letters out through Age Concern who are providing hot meals, a hub at Barnard Castle sending out 100 food parcels, another 100 letters to Darlington Carers looking after people over 65, letters through Darlington Town Mission, a voluntary organisation working to reduce social isolation, and they are also sending out 200 to 300 letters per week to those in isolation including care homes in the area.    

The Interview with the President of the Interact Club can be seen here 

In addition, they put together “VE Day in a Box” for Abbeyfield Care Home for their Victory in Europe Day 75th Anniversary celebrations with cake, bunting they made, including Sir Winston Churchill and Dame Vera Lynn party masks, etc.   


The Interactors recently won the best project award from Rotary in Britain and Ireland for their ‘I Promise’ initiative whereby each student made a promise to the community – a promise of time, fundraising or physical items.

Their promises included a beach clean, a sleep out to help the homeless, helping a women’s refuge, supporting those with cancer, raising funds for the local hospice, supporting emergency services, those living in care, helping people with dementia, reducing social isolation for the elderly.   Funds were also raised to support Rotary’s campaign to eradicate polio and to reduce child mortality by supporting a charity which provides additional training for midwives in Uganda.  

Darlington Rotary were so impressed with this project and their community work that they nominated the Interact Club for a Rotary Young Citizen Award 2020.

The group are student-focused and student-led, headed up by joint Presidents Jess Elmore and Petra Buckle.  The group are self-funding and have the support of an Interact Coordinator in College teacher Nancy Wall.

A large focus has been placed on reducing social isolation in their community.  The Interactors visited local care providers, on a weekly basis, in order to socialise with older people and organised a Christmas lunch event in college for 65 elderly people.  Following the success of this, a half termly community group had been meeting in the college, where students sat and chatted over a cup of tea with the older people.

While the Covid-19 outbreak has limited the students, who would normally spend time in care homes with the elderly, they have continued to help where possible.

The group actively supports their local hospital, Darlington Memorial.  One Interactor Robert has designed a mural for a wall in the children’s ward to reduce child stress in the hospital.  Two others Lorna and Olivia have produced a range of images to be displayed in the audiology department to improve the waiting areas.

They also worked with Darlington Hospital to produce a book of poems from a cancer patient to sell in 8 local hospitals in County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust in order to raise funds for a new cancer unit in Durham.

The group share their activities via Twitter in the hope of inspiring others.  This can be found at @QEInteractClub.  They have also received two mentions on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio in recognition of work done.

The Interactors will receive a trophy, certificate and £300 to go towards their chosen project or charity from Rotary in Britain and Ireland.  The Rotary Young Citizen Awards Presentation had been due to take place at the UK’s first-ever Volunteer Expo, organised by Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland at the NEC in Birmingham this month but the event has been postponed until May 2021 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

Rotary in Britain and Ireland President Donna Wallbank said: “This ‘I PROMISE’ campaign showcases that young people have social consciences and personal integrity.  It highlights that every generation can look at the needs of others in any disaster.  They created an outcome that made a difference to the needs of the community that they are part of and in turn this collectively developed the group and individual ability not be alone in a time when we can each feel worried, isolated and lonely.

Rotary Young Citizen Awards

The Rotary Young Citizen Awards were started in 2007 to celebrate the amazing achievements of inspirational young people across Great Britain and Ireland, many of whom have assumed important responsibilities at a very young age.  Nominations are put forward by Rotary Clubs.  Find out about the other inspirational