Three big-hearted pupils at Ballard School celebrated turning ten by raising more than £1,000 (10 times their original target) – and counting – for a local hospice, forgoing birthday presents and inviting donations instead.

The girls, all in Year 5, held a joint disco birthday party on the 9th January, but rather than accepting traditional birthday gifts, they invited their friends and guests to make a donation to Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington instead.

The kind-hearted trio, Elizabeth Smith, Lucy Fowler and Lucia Dunning, all close friends who turned ten within weeks of each other, came up with the idea themselves, with the initial aim of raising £100.

But their touching gesture inspired such generous donations that they twice upped their target and have raised over £1,000 – smashing their last goal of £750.

Headmaster Andrew McCleave said:

“I truly was delighted to hear of this kind and selfless gesture by these three friends, who instead of thinking of their own wish lists on their birthdays, put others before themselves and chose to raise money for a very good cause.

“At Ballard School, developing character and helping children grow into good people as well as able scholars is at the heart of our approach, and these girls exemplify our values of kindness and service to others. Our Lower Prep pupils learn about charitable causes and how they can help as part of their Life Skills education – we are delighted to see that these lessons have had an impact on our pupils.

“I’m very proud of them and hope their example might inspire others in the school community and beyond it to find a way to ‘pay it forward’ too. Well done girls – and happy birthday!”

All the money, being collected via a JustGiving page, will go to support Oakhaven Hospice in providing palliative care and end of life support for people with life-affecting illnesses and their loved ones.

Jill West, Head of Fundraising at Oakhaven, was presented with the cheque when she came to visit the girls at school. She said:

“A huge thank you to Elizabeth, Lucy and Lucia for raising this money – giving up their birthday presents to help others is an act of real kindness and generosity and we’re all incredibly touched by it.

“We are totally overwhelmed by the selfless choice the girls made to have donations to us rather than presents to celebrate their 10th birthdays. To raise over £1,000 is a phenomenal achievement and will help us to continue making every moment matter for those in our care when they need us most.”

If you’d like to make a donation towards the birthday girls’ fundraising efforts, please visit