Mr Minkov loses his crowning glory, but ...Downend School is full of Pride

July 31 2018

IT has been a familiar sight to students at Downend School for the last four years.

So when the time came for Victor Minkov to have his pony tail chopped off it was a big event - and more than 200 people paid to see it.

Mr Minkov’s charity haircut was just one of a series of special events and activities at Downend School’s first Pride Day.

The event celebrated achievements and brought the school together as a community at the end of the academic year.

Students paid £1 to ditch school uniform for the day and played music, ran stalls and took part in quizzes.

There was a picnic lunch, ice cream van, candy floss machine and a photo booth, while special activities included an inflatable assault course, sponge the teacher and a stage make-up workshop.

There were also sporting events, including basketball and rowing machine challenges and table tennis.

The Pride Day - named after the school’s values - has replaced the annual Activities Days in an effort to help the school cope with funding pressures. Head teacher Lisa Howell told the Voice she was proud that curriculum cuts and class size rises had been avoided for next year but said Downend, like all other schools, was having to be creative to “do more with less.”

“We are also proud that in difficult times we have increased lunchtime provision, expanded our extra-curricular activities and started a school newspaper. All this is down to the hard work and commitment of our excellent staff,” she said.

Mr Minkov, a mathematics higher level teaching assistant and the school’s Duke of Edinburgh Awards manager, raised £145 in donations on the day to add to £640 already pledged online with his charity haircut.

The money - and the 17” (43cm) pony tail - will be donated to the Little Princess Trust, a charity which provides free wigs made from real hair to children and young adults aged up to 24 who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment or other illnesses. The charity also funds research projects into childhood cancers.

Mr Minkov said: “I didn’t grow it initially with the charity in mind but once I decided to cut it, people said the hair was nice, I shouldn’t let it go to waste.

“A lot of students wanted me to shave everything and go bald!”

The charity haircut was carried out by Yate barber Ben Lea, a friend of Mr Minkov’s from Sodbury Vale Musical Comedy Club.   

Anyone who wants to donate to Mr Minkov’s charity can do so online by visiting www.justgiving.com/fundraising/victor-minkov

The Downend Pride Day also saw the launch of the Downend School Community History & Arts Project, a partnership between the school, Historic England and the community to explore the area’s hidden past.  

Organised by the school’s Innovation Centre manager, Nick Smith, the project will bring together history, geography, art and music students with artist Mary Flower and filmmaker Matt Pelly, using archive material to create new work interpreting the area’s past.

Mr Smith is keen for anyone who has old pictures, film, video or stories from Downend’s history to contact him by email at Nick.Smith@CSET.co.uk.