Comedian John Bishop has donated 100 laptops to his former school as he warned of a “gulf” in society risks leaving a generation of children behind.
John said that as someone who qualified for free school meals, he would have been among those who needed help to access a computer at home.
The haul of HP laptops - worth tens of thousands of pounds - arrived at Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy in Runcorn on Tuesday, giving pupils the chance to carry on learning while unable to attend school in person.
OBA said John attended the Runcorn secondary from 1978 to 1983 while it was still Brookvale High.
Kathryn Evans, principal, said the offer came "out of the blue" as she praised his continuing support.
Following the donation, the comic paid tribute to the “brilliant teachers” who changed his life for the better.
With schools shut to many pupils and students instead relying on remote and home learning, John said he hoped the laptops would "plug a gap" in government support, citing the risk of children’s education being abandoned during the pandemic, which he branded a “shameful” fate.
John said: “The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but it has also illustrated the gulf that exists in some parts of society - from the issue of free school meals, to the access of devices to facilitate home learning.
“As a child I qualified for free school meals, so I know I would have been in one of the families that needed help to gain access to a laptop.
“When children are sent home without the tools to facilitate their education they are basically being written off and that is unacceptable to me.
“My life was changed by the commitment of brilliant teachers and a supportive school and I know that ethos is still the same - teachers want to teach and the government have to help and not hinder them.”
He added: “What I can do for my old school fills a gap, but the reality is that in 2021 our children deserve to be educated properly and that requires the government to provide the tools necessary for home learning immediately.
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“Because every day a child feels irrelevant is a day that we as a society could lose all the potential they offer.
“When this pandemic is over we do not want a generation of children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves left behind.
“Allowing that to happen would be shameful.”
Kathryn Evans, principal, said: “John has been a good friend to our school and community since Ormiston Bolingbroke was founded.
“He came in its first year, at the request of a young man in Year 11 who said it would be his dream to meet him.
“Having made that young man’s dream come true, he has not been a stranger to us since.
“John came to help open the school officially, opened our recording studio some years later and helped us so generously stock the music equipment.
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“John knows and really cares for our community, he got in touch quite out of the blue, knowing that we might well have pupils who don’t have spare laptops for remote learning laying around at home.
“This gift to our pupils is wonderful and that is from a former pupil, makes it all the more special.
“We are so grateful to him and his family.”