British teen woodwork star launches new fundraiser after meeting refugee children from Ukraine
13-year-old Gabriel Clark from Cumbria meets Ukrainian refugees in Poland. Photo by John Owens/Save the Children
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WARSAW, 7 April 2023 - A 13-year-old British boy, who became an internet sensation last year after raising over £250,000 (US$310,000) for Ukrainian children by selling a handmade wooden bowl, has launched another fundraiser for Save the Children after meeting young refugees in Poland.
Gabriel Clark from Cumbria in northern England shot to viral fame last April after a quarter of a million people responded to a plea from his father for people to follow his son’s woodwork Instagram account.
Spurred on by support from a raft of celebrities including actor Stephen Fry and “Harry Potter” author JK Rowling, Gabriel decided to put his newfound fame to good use and sold his Bowl for Ukraine through a raffle that attracted thousands to raise funds for Save the Children.
Now, a year later, the teen woodwork star has visited a Ukrainian school in Warsaw funded by the charity to learn more about the impact of his fundraising as he launches a second fundraising drive.
The school supports over 450 children from Ukraine aged 6-17 to study the Ukrainian curriculum in their native language, while providing Polish language lessons and helping children integrate into Poland.
The children painted wooden eggs together - a popular Ukrainian Easter tradition - and played games, as well as discussing their hobbies and other things they had in common.
Following his visit, Gabriel announced he would be carving a new bowl, called The Hope Bowl, to raise funds for the charity’s Emergency Fund, which supports children in crisis all around the world, from those who have fled Ukraine to those suffering from hunger and malnutrition in East Africa.
Gabriel said: “Being at the school in Poland and seeing how much the funds raised last year have helped the Ukrainian children there, I just knew I had to do another fundraiser.
“The children at the school were so happy and welcoming to me and they had so many fun games to play. I wish my school was more like it! Meeting the children there was amazing, but also devastating. We had so much in common, but our circumstances are so different.
“I spoke to one 10-year-old boy who plays the drums, like I do, and he also does Taekwondo, which I love. It amazed me because it’s such an unusual sport. It just reminded me that these children are just like any other child, but they’ve been through so much. If there’s any way of helping them and other children who need it, then I think we all should.”
Gabriel’s Hope Bowl took 10 hours to make and includes three types of wood - ash, sapele and zebrano - to represent three key focuses of Save the Children’s work around the world – education, food and health.
Karina*, 11, attends the Ukrainian school in Warsaw. During Gabriel’s visit to the school, Karina* presented him with a painting in traditional Ukrainian colours with the words “be brave like Ukraine” emblazoned on the front.
Karina* grew up in Kyiv but fled with her mother and 15-year-old brother in March 2022 after the conflict escalated. She describes herself as positive and hard-working and dreams of becoming an art teacher. But although she enjoys attending the school in Warsaw, for her nothing compares to home.
“This is not my home,” she said. “I will not live in Poland forever because I want to go back to my city, my real home. I know that one day I will be in Kyiv again and live many happy years there.”
Gabriel’s new Hope Bowl has already raised more than £6,000.
Lisa Aubrey, Head of Regional Fundraising and Engagement at Save the Children, said:
“We are incredibly grateful for Gabriel’s continued support and everyone who has so far entered the draw for his latest wooden masterpiece. Our ambition to make the world a better place for children simply couldn't happen without the efforts of young people like Gabriel. I hope his incredible feat inspires other children to use their passions and imaginations to raise money, whether it’s a sporting challenge or utilising their creative skillset, any small action can go a long way.
“Our Emergency Fund has never been more important, given the increasing scale and complexity of humanitarian crises. The money raised will help support children in crisis everywhere, from those who have fled conflict in Ukraine to those experiencing hunger in Somalia or suffering the ongoing consequences of the climate crisis.”
The draw for Gabriel’s Hope Bowl will close on Friday 14 April.
For more information on Save the Children, visit www.savethechildren.org.uk
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Notes to Editors:
Save the Children exists to help every child reach their full potential. In the UK and around the world, we make sure children stay safe, healthy and keep learning, so they can become who they want to be. For more information visit www.savethechildren.org.uk.
The Warsaw Ukrainian School is run by Unbreakable Ukraine and funded by Save the Children. The school provides an environment for Ukrainian children to study in their native language, in the Ukrainian educational system they know and among Ukrainian teachers and students who have had similar experiences. Children are provided with free meals every day and all the stationary and equipment they need to study. The children are also supported to integrate into Polish society, providing Polish language lessons and teaching them about the history and culture of Poland. Psychological and emotional support is provided to each student and their entire family where needed.
*name has been changed to protect anonymity