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Billionaire holidaymaker donates £50,000 for Highbury sixth form centre

Headteacher's chimpanzee trek sees school's fortune turn

04 February, 2019 — By Emily Finch

A HEADTEACHER was left “astounded” after a fellow holidaymaker on her chimpanzee trek turned out to be a billionaire who offered to pay for new equipment at her special needs school.

Construction is currently under way at Samuel Rhodes Secondary School in Highbury New Park to create a new sixth form which students will share with nearby Highbury Grove School.

“I was on holiday in Tanzania, talking to my fellow holiday-goers,” said Julie Keylock. “I am always talking about my school. I didn’t have any clue the person I was talk- ing to was a billionaire.”

The woman she happened to be conversing with was philanthropist Judith Neilson, who is ranked the 39th richest woman in Australia by Forbes.

Ms Keylock said: “After the trip, I emailed her daughter Beau, who lives in the UK, asking if she could put us in touch with anyone who could help with fundraising. We didn’t have the money to refurbish the building. But then Judith Neilson just sent me £50,000 like that. I was astounded.”

The start of construction was delayed by a year due to the Academisation of Highbury Grove school, which meant the original grant for the centre fell through. She added: “We were all so stressed at the school before Christmas but this has saved us.”

Construction underway at Highbury New Park school site

The new building will offer students from Samuel Rhodes school in Highbury, a special needs secondary school, hands- on experience when it comes to life skills and will house a flat with bath- room, kitchen and bed- room fittings and fixtures.

There is also a Samuel Rhodes primary school in Hornsey Road which caters for 30 children on the top floor of Montem Community School. “One of our major targets is to ensure that the children and young adults are independent when they leave and can lead purposeful lives in the local community,” said Ms Keylock.

Ms Neilson is planning to visit the school in May to meet the children and visit the new sixth form centre.

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