Gallery: West End star Ruthie Henshall joins St Joseph College Ipswich students for workout

West End star Ruthie Henshall participates in St Joseph's Preparatory School's Aerobathon with her d

West End star Ruthie Henshall participates in St Joseph's Preparatory School's Aerobathon with her daughter and the schools' Dr Martin Hine to raise money for a school in Kenya. Photographs: Su Anderson - Credit: Su Anderson

What better way to get ready for the day ahead than an aerobics workout with West End and Broadway star Ruthie Henshall?

West End star Ruthie Henshall participates in St Joseph's Preparatory School's Aerobathon with her d

West End star Ruthie Henshall participates in St Joseph's Preparatory School's Aerobathon with her daughter and the schools' Dr Martin Hine to raise money for a school in Kenya. Photographs: Su Anderson - Credit: Su Anderson

What better way to get ready for the day ahead than an aerobics workout with West End and Broadway star Ruthie Henshall?

The Suffolk-raised singer and actress, currently appearing as Mrs Wilkinson in the London production of Billy Elliot, joined students at Ipswich’s St Joseph’s College yesterday to help them raise money for the college’s work with the Osiligi Obaya School, in Kenya.

Sponsored by families and friends, 150 nursery reception and prep school pupils packed into the gym for the session with the rest of the student body taking part throughout the rest of the day.

Music blasting, there were swivelling hips, raised arms and fist pumping as far as the eye could see for the aerobathon, which was led by Kay Fletcher and Kelly Root.

West End star Ruthie Henshall participates in St Joseph's Preparatory School's Aerobathon with her d

West End star Ruthie Henshall participates in St Joseph's Preparatory School's Aerobathon with her daughter and the schools' Dr Martin Hine to raise money for a school in Kenya. Photographs: Su Anderson - Credit: Su Anderson

Henshall didn’t sing along, saving her voice for next Friday’s Head West gala charity fundraising concert, also in aid of the Osiligi Obaya School project. Performing in the college’s chapel, she will team up with Mike and the Mechanics frontman Tim Howar to perform personally selected favourites from their West End and Broadway careers. “Tim and I have welcomed the chance to show our support for the partnership between St Joseph’s and the Osiligi Obaya School in Kenya by singing in the concert,” said Ruthie.

“Our daughters are both at St Joseph’s, which is supporting their growth into well-rounded individuals and we’re only too delighted to help the college’s efforts in creating a similar nurturing and progressive environment in a community that is not as privileged as ours.”

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The main purpose of the association with the Osiligi Obaya School is to create a mutually beneficial, wholesome partnership with the Maasai co-educational school, for their and the college’s pupils, staff and community, said Dr Martin Hine, St Joseph’s College’s vice principal and head of prep school, who has been instrumental in forming the international relationship.

“We will be sending students and staff to the village of Kisamis next summer to assist with teaching English, sport, cooking, music, art, ICT and technology. A new venture will be established to run a holiday club for the children to learn more about recreation.”

Education in Kenya has a fairly narrow curriculum, with most schools following the state syllabus with limited science, art and craft being taught. Throughout the country, there are typically 60 to 80 students in a class who are taught by a chalk and talk method, with little hands-on teaching. At Osiligi, the class size is around 25, with much more proactive education.

“Schools in Kenya are formal and serious, but we know children want to play and deepen their all-round education and this is something we think we can help with,” added Dr Hine.

There are now five classes at Osiligi. The aim is to add a new one every year and to work together to create a senior school so it becomes a similar structure to the one at St Joseph’s.

Dr Hine said: “As we do here in Suffolk, we want to help their pupils and the whole community by going out and visiting the locality and respecting the culture of the Maasai.

“But our project is certainly not forcing western attitudes upon them; it is all about enriching pupils’ broad learning experiences alongside fun, active and creative opportunities.”

Head West starts at 7.30pm, Friday, January 30. Doors will be open from 6.30pm with a silent auction during the interval. Tickets are £15, £20 or £30 for a VIP ticket including prime seating, complimentary interval drink and the chance to meet Ruthie Henshall and Tim Howar at the post-concert reception.

Check out the picture gallery.

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