A SPECIAL needs teacher's mission to raise £5,000 for terminally ill county children has grown from a little acorn into a great big tree.

Potentially spanning three counties, Mary Schiavon's fundraising for the Acorns Three Counties Children's Hospice appeal could blossom on February 14 to include every school in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

The Trinity Primary School teacher began raising money last year when she published a puzzle book called Bat for Acorns. Only hoping for £2,000, she has raised hundreds more - and published a second book now in Acorns shops.

Mary has also enlisted Herefordshire Council's director of Education, Dr Eddie Oram, to help raise thousands of pounds in just one day.

Acorns Day?

"I would like February 14 to become Acorns Day. Schools could hold a no uniform day or Valentine disco, something special to raise money," said Mary, whose pupils have attended Acorns. She hopes the charity will pass on the idea to schools in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

Dr Oram has sent a letter to every school in the county asking them to take part. "The hospice gives invaluable care and support to our children at times of need. It could obviously be needed by any child, at any time, from any school in the county. We hope that your school will be able to take an active part in helping to make this a memorable day," wrote Dr Oram.

Mary's second puzzle book, printed by Reprodux Printers in Hereford, has been put together with the help of friends and staff at school and has been tailored to readers' requests.

Brainteasers include proverbs, cryptic word games and a football story with missing words. Correct entries will be put into a draw on March 23. A £100 first prize goes to the winner. There will also be a reward for whoever sells the most puzzle books. Leading the way is the County Hospital shop at 183.

Anyone who would like to help sell the puzzle books can contact Trinity Primary School on 01432 266268.

l IT was a benevolent wind that blew through Bromyard when the town band struck up for charity.

Directed by teacher and musician David Thomas, Bromyard Wind Band raised £1,100 for Acorns Three Counties Appeal at the town's Conquest Theatre and at a street carol concert in December. Members have also sent a £110 cheque to the Premanada Orphanage in India.

"The Three Counties Appeal was always going to be our main charity this year, but we have a long-term commitment to an orphanage in India and we try to send them a little each year," said Mr Thomas.