School issues humbling apology to children's cancer charity after teacher brands pyjama day fundraiser a 'paedophile's paradise'
Vice principal of Brooke Weston Academy criticised the fundraiser, which would see pupils come to school in nightwear, in an e-mail to a colleagueMark Willimott also sent the e-mail to 'shocked' organisers at charity Chelsea's Angels by mistakeThe vice principal had written: '… are they aiming for a paedophile's paradise'
16:34 GMT, 22 January 2013
16:43 GMT, 22 January 2013
Blunder: Vice principal Mark Willimott described charity Chelsea's Angels' sponsored pyjama day as a 'paedophile's paradise' in an e-mail
A school has been forced to apologise to a children's cancer charity after the vice principal branded its sponsored pyjama day a 'paedophile's paradise'.
Chelsea's Angels, which helps children diagnosed with neuroblastoma and other rare cancers, had e-mailed schools in Northamptonshire inviting them to take part in the event – which would see pupils attending lessons in nightwear – as a fun way to raise money.
But the charity was stunned to receive a reply from Brooke Weston Academy in Corby which implied the fundraiser could encourage paedophiles.
Vice principal Mark Willimott had intended to forward the charity's invite – along with his critical comments – to a colleague, but inadvertently copied the e-mail to Chelsea's Angels co-founder Michelle Tompkins too.
Mr Willimott had written: 'AM I MISSING SOMETHING
'FYI although are they aiming for a paedophile's paradise'
The incredulous teacher had added: 'Loads of kids walking to school in pyjamas', punctuated by dozens of question marks.
Chelsea's Angels was set up by the parents of two-year-old Chelsea Knighton, who suffered with aggressive neuroblastoma and died in August 2009.
The charity had hoped to raise thousands of pounds by encouraging schools and colleges to take part in its sponsored pyjama day this Thursday.
'Am I missing something': The inadvertent response from the vice principal at the Corby secondary school (pictured) left charity organisers 'angry' and 'shocked'
Event organiser Michelle Tompkins, who sent out the invitation to Brooke Weston, said reading Mr Willimott's remarks had left her 'angry' and 'shocked'.
'I was angry when I got the e-mail,' she said.
'It wasn't like we were asking children to come in in their underwear'
Michelle Tompkins, of charity Chelsea's Angels
'I felt he was accusing us of attracting paedophiles to children. When my colleague rang up later to ask them about it and told them what happened the person on the end of the phone seemed to snigger at them,' said Mrs Tompkins, before adding: 'They reacted as if it was just “oh, that's exactly what I'd expect him to do”.'
Mrs Tompkins said Chelsea's Angels had run sponsored pyjama days several times in the past to raise funds.
'It wasn't like we were asking children to come in in their underwear,' she said.
'The last time my daughter went to one of these she was wearing more clothes than she does in her uniform.
'The headteacher was very apologetic on the phone but I have still heard nothing from the man himself,' said Mrs Tompkins.
'Regrettable': Trish Stringer, left, principal at Brooke Weston Academy, right, has apologised over the e-mail, but added that the school does not support pyjama days
Brooke Weston's principal Trish Stringer has apologised and described the incident as 'regrettable'.
But she added that the school does not support pyjama days because it is not 'appropriate' for students to attend in nightwear.
'This was a private, internal email which was sent to the charity inadvertently,' the principal said.
'This was regrettable and I have apologised to the charity personally and also discussed the issue with the member of staff.
'We have offered to hold a mufti day to raise funds that will generate in excess of 1,000,' Ms Stringer added.
'However we do not support pyjama days, primarily because we do not think it appropriate for students to come to school in night attire.
'We constantly reinforce the message that they should stay safe, both online and in the real world, and we are confident that our staff and parents understand and support this view,' she said.
Ms Stringer said Brooke Weston Academy had raised thousands of pounds for charities including the Teenage Cancer Trust and Myeloma UK in recent years.
'Therefore we look forward to presenting Chelsea's Angels with a charity cheque as we appreciate the important work that they carry out,' she said.