FIVE teenagers are getting set for an international aid mission in Africa to help build a new school.

St Stephen's High students Kieran Henderson, Amy Gillan, Katie Matthews, Caitlin Cunningham and Molly McGerr are preparing to go to Malawi in June to help transform the lives of young people there.

Collectively the group had to raise £5,000 to help towards materials and other costs plus a further £2,500 to cover the costs associated with getting there.

The pupils will be accompanied by Mark Parsons, principal teacher of guidance and Clare McKinney, depute head, who have been overwhelmed by the generosity and support they have had with their fundraising.

Mr Parsons said: “We raised the initial £5,000 very quickly.

"Donations came through from people anonymously, from parishioners, from parental and company contacts and from local groups.

"People have been so generous.”

Along with an influx of donations the pupils themselves have been determined to raise what they can and held a number of fundraisers in order to do so.

A race night held in November made £2,200, a bag packing in Tesco added to the total and a quiz night run by the church saw a further £1,000 donated.

Head boy Kieran collected more than £1,500 by running the Great Scottish Run 10k in October while head girl Katie organised the most recent fundraiser, an afternoon tea event which raised £827.

All the money raised will be divided between the pupils to help cover their individual travel costs.

Ms McKinney said: “Parents and the community have been fantastic.

“The pupils have been brilliant too, they have really put in the effort and organised the events.

"We are very proud.”

A race night has been organised for March 22 in the Celtic Supporters' Club in Greenock and all are hopeful that it will be the last big fundraiser the group will host.

With the final fundraiser approaching and the trip nearing, excitement is building.

Katie said: “We have done well with the fundraising and now we are all looking forward to going.

"I’m excited to see all the children, I think it will be sad but also good, a great experience.”

Mr Parsons added: “Once there they will be helping to refurbish the building so will be doing a lot of painting and gardening.

"It will be hard work but I think they will get a lot out of it.

“I am hopeful they will build on their practical skills, their organisation and their leadership skills.

"I think they will enjoy learning about the life and culture and I am looking forward to setting off.”