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Former student returns to Cardiff school to help pupils and staff with wellbeing

Like many Catholic schools, Mary Immaculate High School in Cardiff was struggling to recruit a new chaplain after their long-serving member of staff retired.

But, after months of searching, their prayers were finally answered by none other than a former student.

Ore Egbetola, who attended Mary Immaculate until 2018, and was head girl, has just started as the school’s first Wellbeing and Spiritual Officer.

Although she can’t be a chaplain as she is not a practising Catholic, her new full-time role will see Ore taking on a range of responsibilities, including offering support and guidance to students and staff.

She was encouraged to apply for the role after being invited in to speak to year 11 students and give them tips and encouragement on how to cope with stress.

Ore, who lives in Barry, said: “The school has a very important place in my heart, and I have always kept in contact. When they asked me to apply, I didn’t even think about it, I just said yes.”

Ore spent much of her childhood and teenage years as a young carer, looking after her late mother Toyosi, who had kidney disease, and her younger sister Ire, who has sickle cell disease.

After doing her GCSEs at Mary Immaculate and her A-levels at St David’s College, Ore spent time working for a sickle cell charity and helping at the New Life Community Church in Tonyrefail, where she runs the Sunday School.

Of her new role, Ore said: “I’ve always enjoy working with children. I feel that having a person who’s not a teacher available to talk to students and help them when they’re struggling is very important.

“One of my main roles is being that person, and I’m always visible around the school making sure people know I’m there for them if they need me. I’m able to draw on my own personal experiences to give them the support and encouragement they need.

“The school has been amazing, and they are so supportive towards me, especially when it comes to training to help me improve and enhance my skills.”

Ore said she wants to increase the amount of charity and community work students do, and she wants to help those students who are religious to feel more comfortable in expressing their faith.

“One of my main goals is to help the children feel closer to themselves, to each other and to God,” she said.

Annmarie Wilson, deputy head at Mary Immaculate, said: “We were delighted to welcome Ore back to the school in her new role. Her caring nature, her personal experiences and her faith made her the perfect person for the job.

“As a school with a large number of students from deprived areas, we face our fair share of challenges. Having someone like Ore on hand to offer spiritual and emotional support will make overcoming those challenges a lot easier.”