Former College student flying out to Mumbai to support slum children

Former Cirencester College student Max Cooke, 27 will be moving to Mumbai later this year to teach English to children from the Mumbai slums before they travel to Gloucestershire later this year.
Max Cooke, 27, who had to postpone the final year of his degree in Animal Welfare and Behavioural Science at Bristol University due to illness, will be supporting the Oscar Foundation, set up 10 years ago by Indian teenager Ashok Rathod. The charity encourages children from the slums to stay in school, linking education and sport across the world.
Max, met Ashok last year when he was visiting the Cotswolds to drum up sponsors for the scheme with the help of Lucinda Magraw, a freelance publicist from Frampton Mansell.
Max said: “I really wanted to do something productive with my time, and remembered about the foundation, and being friends with Lucinda I always get updates about it, and got in contact.”
Max was at Cirencester College between 2004 and 2006, taking A-levels in Fine Art, Photography and Design and Technology. After graduating from college at 18 with aspirations of becoming an artist, Max spent four or five years travelling the world, before deciding to go to university.
“Whilst I was away in places like India, I just realised how much I wanted to help,” he said. “Mainly with the animals but the people as well.
“There were so many things that frustrated me that I wanted to try and change. “When I got back, I realised maybe the artistic route wasn’t the way I was going to go down.”
The first time Max went to India, he did charity work around Kaziranga National Park in Assam, where David Attenborough filmed much of Planet Earth II.
“It is a biodiversity hotspot,” he said. “I was very lucky, I got positioned there for two months in the Assamese Jungle, so I know what it’s like to be thrown into the deep end and be in somewhere completely alien.
“For two months I ate rice and dhal every day and had no electricity, no water, just in a little hut, and I’m actually really excited to be going back to that again.”
Max hopes to incorporate his degree in his teaching and make the slum children aware of the unique wildlife in their homeland.
He said from his previous visit to India, many people from the slums have “this idea that elephants and rhinos and tigers are just wondering everywhere in the world, and I really want to get through the message about how lucky they are to have those animals.”
Visit mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/oscarukschoolstour to donate to the project or contact Lucinda at Lucinda@oscar-foundation.org if you would to get involved as a sponsor.
For more information on the Oscar Foundation, go to oscar-foundation.org