Bognor’s young UNICEF ambassador meets the stars

The Regis School's  Kendra Diston attends Soccer Aid Reception
The Regis School's Kendra Diston attends Soccer Aid Reception

‘I can’t believe the day really happened’, that is how a student from The Regis School summed up rubbing shoulders with celebrities and the prime minister at the Soccer Aid Reception yesterday.

UNICEF UK ambassador Kendra Diston admitted she was ‘star-stuck’ during the prestigious Soccer Aid Reception as she couldn’t believe so many people she recognised from the TV were interested in her work for the charity.

The Regis School's  Kendra Diston attends Soccer Aid Reception

The Regis School's Kendra Diston attends Soccer Aid Reception

She added: “It was a real privilege to represent UNICEF UK and The Regis School and to meet celebrities like Usain Bolt and Robbie Williams but the most memorable and humbling moment was when another school child said she had seen my film and thought I was an inspiration to her.

“I can’t believe the day really happened, I had no idea this time last year I would get the chance to go to Downing Street so I would like to thank UNICEF for the opportunities they have given me. I know this will impact me for the rest of my life and I will never forget it.”

Kendra is one of The Regis School’s Rights Respecting Ambassadors who dedicate many hours to promoting the rights of the child both within and beyond the school. Her work this year alone has included helping plant 2,000 crocus bulbs in the school grounds for the Purple for Polio Campaign, collecting and delivering 2,000kg of food to Bognor Food Bank alongside making three documentary films to showcase the work of Soccer Aid for UNICEF.

The Regis School’s assistant headteacher, Caroline Saunders, said: “Kendra absolutely embodies what the RRS programme is all about. It allows all children, whatever their background to dare to believe they can achieve their dreams. I have been particularly impressed with her determination and passion to uphold other children’s rights and her commitment to UNICEF.

“I know other young people in Bognor Regis and around the UK will now look to Kendra and be inspired to take a chance, put themselves forward and recognise the impact their social actions can have on the wider world. We are very, very proud of her.”

Kendra is the only non-celebrity Unicef UK ambassador chosen to face its latest campaign.

In a statement the charity said she was picked because of the ‘impressive awareness and fundraising work’ being done by her and the school.

As part of the role, Kendra travelled to Lesotho in Africa to film as a young reporter ahead of this year’s Soccer Aid fundraiser this Sunday.

It was Kendra’s first time outside of the UK and first experience of film-making.

One of the videos was made during a visit to a school in Lesotho to see a new water pump and toilets installed by the charity.

Another visit saw Kendra learn about the work of Sentebale, the charity set up by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to support

children affected by HIV.

Speaking about the video, Kendra said: “The first couple of times I watched the film it made me cry.

“I was nervous at the time about what people were going to think about it but I’ve had really positive feedback to it from my family and friends. But people can never experience what I experienced – you don’t know what it’s really like out there unless you see it.”

The Regis School has also been chosen as the face of Unicef’s Playground Challenge for Soccer Aid, which saw staff and all 1,500 students star in another video for the charity.

Taking part in an obstacle course, they demonstrated how schools across the country can get involved in setting up their own fundraising challenge to take place tomorrow (Friday).

Principal Mike Garlick said: “As a whole school community, it was fantastic to be able to lead the way for the Playground Challenge and

raise money and awareness through such an enjoyable day of physical challenge.”

He added his thanks to parents, governors and the wider community who helped the school to reach its fundraising goal of £1,000.