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“One of the best things I’ve ever done”

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World Challenge Team 1 – By Tara Bains, Amy Turner & Lucy Whittock

A “leech camp,” wading through waist deep water, ant bites and negotiating treacherous muddy slopes as the rain lashed down were just some of the unique hurdles Team 1 of the NHEHS World Challenge faced this summer.

The 17-strong team enjoyed quite a contrasting trekking experience from their Team 2 colleagues and from what they had expected themselves. After a few days in Phnom Penh, they swapped hostel rooms for hammocks in the jungle as they set off on a five-day jungle trek.

Excitement and anticipation ahead of the physical challenge however soon turned into a mental test. The team struggled to keep their feet (and backpacks) on the 4-hour daily trek amidst the mud and the most rain that Cambodia’s Ratanakiri province had seen for 14 years, made worse by a dam bursting in neighbouring Vietnam. One camp contained so many leeches it became known as “leech camp!” The hammocks which they had so naively looked forward to sleeping in became drenched from the sheer deluge of water that fell from the canopy, with the structure of one even collapsing due to the weight of the water. Waking up in the morning some girls found leeches attached to their legs while everyone had to remember to check their shoes for scorpions!

Understandably, morale wavered from time to time but the girls all looked out for each other and lifted their spirits with chapters from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and songs. But the girls agreed that the trek had brought them all closer together, particularly as the Year 12s & 13s had not known each other that well before the trip and all felt extremely proud to have completed the trek as a group in the conditions.


Leaving the jungle behind, the group moved on to Siem Reap (including visiting temples, street markets and watching a circus) which came as a huge contrast, making the girls appreciate even more the daily struggle of the Cambodians who lived in the jungle.

As part of their voluntary work on the trip, the team spent several days painting and renovating a school in Surin in Thailand. In the afternoons they played football and taught English through songs to local children whose English was very limited as they lived in such a remote part of the country.  As the girls were leaving, the children brought them flowers from the jungle and homemade cards as they lined the road to say goodbye.

Team 1 World Challenge Classroom

The team also visited the harrowing Genocide Museum to learn about the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields. There was a definite sense of outrage and guilt among the group that the atrocities were not better known throughout the western world, particularly as the sensitivities surrounding recent history were never very far away. The visit to the museum in the Khmer Rouge’s secret Security Prison 21 (S-21) put it into context – explaining why the team’s guide was only willing to discuss history and politics when in the jungle, with less chance of being overheard. 


Returning to London, the girls expected things to have changed hugely in the three weeks they were away and disconnected from their connected worlds, but in fact very little important had changed. Some girls even said they hadn’t missed their mobile phones but the trip made them appreciate many of the things we take for granted such as being able to turn on a drinking water tap whenever they wanted to or to choose whatever they wanted at a café.

Some of our highlights:

Scariest moment: When one the trees collapsed in the jungle onto the tarpaulin as the girls were sheltering one day from the rain.

Most disgusting moment: The smell of jackfruit (which we thought was a gas leak)!

Funniest moment: Miss Cagnino misjudging the depth of the river and falling in!

Best moment: Snorkelling at the beach.


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Last Sunday, our team of staff and parent runners set off to complete the challenge of the Ealing Half Marathon to fundraise for local Northfields charity The Log Cabin. A mix of enthusiastic runners, seasoned half-marathoners and first-timers, the NHEHS team were never far from supporters cheering them all along the 13.1 mile route.

Waved off from Lammas Park by Ms Silva, the first water station was a welcoming sight a couple of miles into the run with several NHEHS girls volunteering at St. Peter’s Church. Then, ahead of the tricky Park View Road hill, two large groups of NHEHS girls congregated with their parents to wave  brightly-coloured banners and hand out sweets. 

Pitshanger was peppered with teachers and supporters encouraging the team with “Go Notting Hill!” to every runner in the NHEHS red and blue t-shirt. Back on familiar (and flattish!) ground along Wimborne Gardens outside the school, teachers and girls boosted morale with much-needed jelly babies and high-fives after the Kent Avenue incline. Four miles down the road after conquering the notorious Greenford Avenue hill, the team were homeward bound but just as the legs began to tire, up popped up more amazing support in Hanwell!

Feeling almost like local celebrities, the whole team loved hearing all the girls cheering their names and for the school with other runners quipping “You seem to know a lot of people in Ealing!”

With seemingly the whole of Ealing out on the streets, backed by steel bands, serious sound systems, jelly babies and noisy NHEHS supporters all over the course, the incredible #EalingFeeling inspired many of the team to achieve Personal Best times. Some have even signed up already for next year!

All chalking up their own PBs were our sporting role model teachers from the team, Mr Shoults (1 hour 42 mins), Mr Smith (1 hour 27 mins), Miss Bushell (1  hour 33 mins) and Mr Stocker (who ran incognito in under 2 hours!).

So, how was the EHM for them?

Highlight of the day?

Mr Shoults: Fantastic support from girls, staff and parents, including banners, including jelly babies which were much needed.

Mr Smith:   Having the support of the school community on the way round – hearing lots of ‘Go, Mr Smith’ really helped. The guy I was running with at one point said to me it was like he was running with a celebrity (I’ll take that so thank you all for making me feel a little famous for an hour and a half). Also getting to see my 20-month-old son half-way round the course. He had a great time clapping and waving at the runners. Now, if asked where I am, he explains ‘Daddy run’.

Miss Bushell: For me the best part of the day was seeing all the girls – or hearing their cheers even if I couldn’t quite pick out all of the faces.  It means so much to have people cheering you on by name, although the pacers I was close to were very confused as to why people kept on shouting ‘Miss Bushell!!’

How do you feel having achieved it?

Mr Shoults: A great first year for the NHEHS team, with lots of money raised for Log Cabin.  This feels like the beginning of a tradition!

Mr Smith: I am so pleased that everyone helped raise money for such a good cause in the Log Cabin.

Would you do it again?

Mr Shoults: Yes, once the aches have faded.

Mr Smith: Yes – it had a great atmosphere and I have enjoyed being part of a running club as part of the training.

Miss Bushell: I will definitely do it again next year – 2019 will be my seventh EHM!  I’ve done several marathons, and I’m now looking forward to the last couple of weeks of training before Abingdon at the end of October.

NHEHS Team Finishers


Thanks to the team for an amazing effort and for all the generous donations to our Just Giving Page for The Log Cabin, who do such valuable work supporting children and young people with disabilities and additional needs. We have raised over £5,000 so far and you can still donate here until October 19th.

Would the team do it again? Definitely.

So, who’s up for the Ealing Half in September 2019?



World Challenge

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By Anushka Reddy (Year 13) – Team 2 Member

This summer two teams of intrepid NHEHS Year 12 girls sweated the heat, mingled with the mozzies, immersed themselves in Thai and Cambodian culture and taught English to local children as part of their 24-day World Challenge.

Each team of 14 girls, two teachers and one World Challenge leader faced some of the most intensive days of their lives. The months leading up to the departure had been busy too as we all had to finance the trip by ourselves through an amazing range of fundraising efforts including a 16-hour rowing challenge, babysitting and kids party entertaining!

Learning to budget (and knowing their 17 times table!) became an important daily challenge on the trip as we took turns to take responsibility to manage a daily budget for the whole group, including negotiating on transport, accommodation, activities and food costs. 

Following several days acclimatising and sightseeing in Bangkok, the teams travelled to Kanchanaburi to tackle a strenuous trek to Hellfire Pass, rewarding themselves by cooling off in the beautiful Erawan Falls.

After taking in Angkor Wat, we discovered our calling as manual labourers clearing space to build a 70 m fence for a local school as part of voluntary work at a small village in the jungle.  Having completed our assigned task, one of the teams went further and took the initiative to start up a vegetable patch for the school too. 

The afternoons were spent with a small group of local children (aged 6-15) teaching English, using shapes, parts of the body and the old favourite “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes!” We enjoyed the challenge of coming up with ideas to entertain and teach the children with limited resources, so that despite the language barriers, the number of students had grown to over 20 by the end of the stay!

Leaving the jungle, we continued on to Phnom Penh in Cambodia where we learned about the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields at the thought-providing Genocide Museum.

The Challenge ended with not one but two splash-out, memorable meals, the reward of careful budgeting which clearly worked as unlike some other groups we were able to use our left over money in style!

The teams left Cambodia with a huge sense of achievement, especially in completing the jungle trek as a group.  As teenagers who like our own space normally, we had learned to live alongside the same people for a long time in a strange environment while getting to know girls we did not know before. And all without our mobile phones! We soon realised the importance of time management and learned how to make decisions in a large group. We came back more aware of what we CAN do and more open to trying to achieve new things that we might not have done before. But the best thing was definitely the group bonding and new friendships we made.

Some of our highlights:

 Scariest moment – the tarantulas!

Most disgusting moment – eating locusts and chrysalises.

Most eventful night – when the rain started to fall through the canopy on to us as we slept in our hammocks in the jungle!

Funniest moment 1 – the very bit-ey fish at the waterfalls!

Funniest moment 2 – the monkey cheekily pinching the hand cream at Angkor Wat!



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We are excited to announce the launch of three brand new volunteering projects at NHEHS with fantastic local charities in Ealing, plus the roll-out of a reading programme successfully piloted earlier this year.

Working with Ealing Mencap, we are looking for girls in Years 7-9 for the Volunteer Events Committee to help organise fun events for people with learning difficulties and other disabilities.

Ealing Mencap are also offering the opportunity for five of our students (Years 10-13) to become founding members of their new Young People’s Board to work alongside the charity to create, launch and update new social media content for younger people.  The five girls who win a place on the Board will be those who are able to fundraise the most money for the charity by December 14th.

Ealing Age Concern would like volunteers in Years 12 and 13 who could help out for one to two hours a week to befriend an elderly person at Greenford Community Centre or help with organised activities.

Following a highly successful pilot last year, there are also opportunities for Year 12 and 13 girls to work for one hour a week with young children at Drayton Green Primary School to help develop and practice their reading and literacy skills.

For more information please click here  or to get involved in any of these projects, please email Miss Prendergast or the front office.


#NHEHSGetInvolved #NHEHSHandInHand


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