A donation by a Blyth businessman has helped complete a mission by students to fund a volunteering exhibition to South Africa.

The sixth formers from Bede Academy, in Blyth, are now ready to fly out to Tembisa, near Johannesburg, on July 1.

The final funds they needed were donated by Barry Elliott, a keen supporter of the academy, local charities and community projects.

Handing over £1,200 – £200 towards each student’s fund-raising target – he said: “We should all appreciate how well off we are and do what we can to make sure everybody in the world has access to fresh water, heat and food. It’s just not acceptable for any child to be hungry, cold or without clean water.

“I think the students will see levels of poverty they can’t yet imagine and it’s great that they are going out there to do what they can to help.”

The students will work with AIDS orphans in a local school, using their talents developed at the academy to teach music, games and art to children whose education is provided by the charity Love Trust.

As well as helping in the classroom and on the sports field, they may also get involved in some construction work.

Student Jamie Watson said: “It’s really generous of Mr Elliott and we’re really grateful for his support.”

Adrian Wray added: “It shows how people in Blyth will help each other as a community.”

The Bede Academy students will join others from Emmanuel Schools Foundation schools – The King’s Academy, in Middlesbrough, Trinity Academy, near Doncaster, and Emmanuel College, Gateshead – on the trip.

They had to apply for a place, stating what qualities they felt they could bring to the work and what they hoped to learn from the experience.

Vice principal Dr Andrew Middleton, who will accompany them, added: “The flights are booked and we’re all ready to go. Mr Elliott’s very generous donation is a huge addition to our total.

“The students are looking forward to an incredible experience and an opportunity to serve.”

The students had to raise £1,000 each and organised events including a gym-based sponsored bike ride, car washes and a concert. Younger children at Bede South also got involved with a sponsored readathon.