WEST Cumbrian-born singer-songwriter Francis Dunnery has taken time out of his three-week European tour to visit his old school and hand over a £4,000 donation.

Staff and pupils at St Bridget’s RC School, in Francis’s home town of Egremont, were thrilled when he called in on Friday.

The money was raised during what has become an annual weekend of fundraising for the Charlie and Kathleen Dunnery Children’s Fund, which he set up in memory of his parents.

Francis said the fund, which is now a registered charity, is to help improve the health and education of children in Egremont and the surrounding area. Since it was launched in 2002, it has raised several thousand pounds for the West Cumberland Hospital.

Elaine O’Reilly, head of St Bridget’s said the fund’s “fantastic” £4,000 donation to her school would help inspire the next generation of pop stars, with instruments and equipment for the music room and new information computer technology facility.

Francis shot to fame as the leader of It Bites, best known for their 1986 hit Calling All the Heroes.

Many of the school’s children were among the 80-plus walkers who took part in a sponsored walk round Ennerdale in October as part of the Charlie and Kathleen Dunnery Children’s Fund fundraising weekend.

It also included golf and football tournaments, pop quiz and auction, and a concert.

Francis praised the local commitment to the charity, which is in the process of developing a website for online donations and fundraising activities.

He said the next fundraising weekend, which take place during the October half-term, will be in aid of Egremont’s Bookwell School.

Published in The Whitehaven News