Birmingham & Black Country

Camel visits Smethwick primary school spice project

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Media captionPeople said they were "amazed" to see a camel walking the streets of Birmingham

A camel has visited a West Midlands school as part of a project backed by £9,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Cocoso, which is owned by a Warwickshire camel-hire company, spent the day with children from the Victoria Park Primary Academy, in Smethwick.

The visit is part of a school social enterprise project designed to sell spices and promote integration.

HLF described the school's scheme as "imaginative".

'40 ethnicities'

The camel was chosen to promote the project because of the animal's historical links with the spice trade.

It spent the day with the children promoting their work at businesses, organisations and care homes.

Image caption The school thought its social enterprise scheme would help promote integration

Avnish Dhesi, head of the school, said: "There are 40 different ethnicities at the school and teachers decided, 18 months ago, a spice club would be a good way to integrate parents and pupils.

"The club has grown since then through cookery lessons and the social enterprise aspect was set up.

"Now we sell spices online and employ two parents to help."

Nick Clitheroe, who has been working with the school on the project, said the experience had been "invaluable" for the children.

"Having the camel here has really helped attract people's attention," he said.

"We have been teaching the children about the spice routes and how the camels carried the spices. They have learned so much."

Rebecca and Joseph Fossett, who own the camel, said he was rescued from Spain and is "quite a celebrity".

'He's been in films, adverts and all sorts educational projects like this," they said.

Reyahn King, head of HLF, West Midlands, said: "The academy has hit on an imaginative way for children to learn about the heritage of diverse local communities and then share their newly-acquired knowledge with people of all ages."

Image caption The camel has appeared on TV and is "quite a celebrity", its owners say

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