Join Beacon Alumni network and inspire the next generation

Beacon Academy is in search of former Beacon students, parents, employers and organisations to join its free alumni network and provide a valuable service to current students. Joining the network is a great way to reconnect with the school and make a contribution. There is no commitment to do anything other than register via Future First, the charity that provides the platform for the Academy’s network at

Beacon Academy Marketing and Communications Officer, Cara Hoper, says, “We love hearing from former students and often invite our alumni to return to Beacon to inspire current students with the exciting progress they have made. Access to relatable role models can help students to feel more confident about their next steps. By spending a couple of hours sharing advice and guidance about your industry or career path, mentoring a small number of students or providing work experience opportunities, you can help students to break through perceived barriers and realise their full potential.”

In December 2019, the Academy was delighted to welcome former student and founder of Child’s i Foundation, Lucy Buck, back to Beacon for an inspirational talk for Sixth Form students who had raised an incredible £25,000 to support community projects in the West African country.

Lucy had first visited The Gambia with Beacon Sixth Form twenty five years earlier in 1994, and described how this first experience inspired her to volunteer in an orphanage in Uganda, and eventually led her to leave a career in TV Production to found Child’s i Foundation, an organisation working with the Ugandan Government to ensure children grow up in safe and loving families, not orphanages, “Visiting The Gambia with Beacon was such an incredible experience. I had a ten year stint working with Endemol in London, producing reality TV shows including Big Brother, Love Island and Hell’s Kitchen, but I always knew that I wanted to do something in Africa.”

By founding Child’s i Foundation, Lucy wanted to ensure that children in Uganda could grow up in loving homes, either reunited with their own families or matched with loving, Ugandan adoptive or foster families. Lucy is a strong advocate of the power of collaboration, and is proud of the positive impact that Beacon has made in helping communities in The Gambia move towards self-sufficiency over the past twenty eight years; “The ways in which Beacon supports communities in The Gambia has become so much more professional. The impact that the school has made is transformative.”

After eleven years of running the organisation, Lucy handed over Child’s i Foundation in September. “The real mark of success,” says Lucy, “is that I am now no longer needed. We have a brilliant team of eighty people in Uganda, and a great team here in the UK led by a Ugandan. The project works alongside the government of Uganda and we are demonstrating how to reform districts to eliminate the need for orphanages to scale across the country.”

Having recently relocated back to the area, Lucy is taking a short break and would like to use her experience of communications, leadership and fundraising to support projects closer to home.

“I studied Politics and Sociology at the University of Reading and I have always had an interest in education and social care, especially for the elderly, who I think are the most vulnerable group here in the UK.”

During her time at Beacon Sixth Form, Lucy was often involved in advocating on behalf of the youth for better services in Crowborough; “I used to be the one who would organise the redecoration of the Common Room and I helped to organise the school’s first ever leaver’s party at Barnsgate Manor. My heroes at Sixth Form were Mr Hughes and Mr Barrett – they were such inspirational teachers, I had the best education here.”

Lucy now enjoys supporting her friends’ children as they progress through Beacon Academy and would love to go back to The Gambia with Beacon Sixth Form in the future. “Last year I went to a fundraising event for my friend’s son who was going to The Gambia. I am so proud of Beacon and the school’s amazing progress in recent years. There is a real sense of pride and respect amongst students and within the community too.”

“My advice for students now would be to have an audacious goal and every single day, make an incremental step towards it. Never, ever give up.”

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