MP visits Great Bedwyn school for the launch of kids’ Tusk Force

Written by Lissa Gibbins on .

Children with their beadsChildren with their beadsThe Year 5 children of Great Bedwyn Primary School and their teacher, Jo Popperwell, have been given a huge boost to their inspiring and exciting elephant project with the attendance of Claire Perry, MP.

Parents and governors, teachers and members of the local community were invited to hear the children present their idea, about which each and every member of the class spoke passionately.

The inspiration came from June Pearson, the grandmother of one of the Class 5 children, who was painting clay beads during a family church service to raise awareness of the work of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, Kenya.

Hearing June talk about elephant poaching and the way that baby elephants are orphaned when their mothers are killed for tusks made the children determined to do something and they decided to paint lots more beads and sell them at a school fundraising event for the orphanage.

Each string bears the name of each of the 180 orphaned elephants currently at the orphanage – although new elephants are being rescued all the time. On average, every fifteen minutes another elephant is slaughtered for their tusks.

June Pearson headteacher Nicola Williams teacher Jo Popperwell and Claire PerryJune Pearson headteacher Nicola Williams teacher Jo Popperwell and Claire PerryThe children and teachers of Class 5 have decided to take a meaningful stand against the horror of ivory poaching in Kenya.

Setting up Kids’ Tusk Force UK is the first step on that journey, and they are now official funding partners with the David Sheldrick Trust.

Each child is an ambassador for the project. They want to take the message into every Year 5 classroom – firstly in Wiltshire and then around the country - to encourage children to join the crusade against the destruction of their wildlife heritage.

They have received support not only from Claire Perry, but from celebrities such as David Attenborough and Bear Grylls, and the Royal Family are aware of the project and awaiting updates on fundraising.

Other schools can register through the website and raise money by making and selling beads. £350 adopts an elephant and gets you progress and updates from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust on “your” elephant.

This is undoubtedly a story of hope – not just for the elephants whose future is so uncertain, but for us all - that children can take the education they receive and feel empowered to do something with it, and change the world for the better.

For more information, visit