PUPILS at St Mary’s R.C Primary in Chepstow spent yesterday battling a grand chess master in aid of the Imogen appeal.

Twenty four pupils from Year 2 to Year 6 took part in the fundraiser which involved Marian Petrov, a Grandmaster chess player playing against them simultaneously. The sponsored chess tournament has so far raised £950 to go towards the £40,000 needed for two-year-old Imogen Ashwell-Lewis’ operation.

Imogen has a debilitating nerve-muscle condition known as spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, which means she walks on her toes, has stiffness in her legs and poor balance and coordination. The money raised is to fund a procedure called selective dorsal rhizotomy which could enable her to walk independently.

Catherine Ashwell-Price, Imogen’s mother, of Lapwing Avenue, Caldicot, said: “All of the children wanted to do something to raise money for Imogen. It’s great because they all know Imogen and she will be coming to this school.

“We are now just off £12,000 on our just giving page and still have money to collect. Imogen is getting measured this week for splints for a cast.”

Imogen’s older sister Rosie- Cayte, a Year 5 pupil took part in the tournament.

She said: “It’s all about having fun and raising money for Imogen. Lots of people wanted to help.

“I’ve been involved in the chess team since it started.”

The chess team at the primary is now in its second year. Mr Petrov made his way around the room to play against the pupils who all had their own individual chess boards.

Marian Petrov, from Bulgaria, Grandmaster for the last four years, said: “The children have very good potential. I enjoyed playing against them.”

The Grandmaster’s visit was organised by the Welsh Chess Union. To receive Grandmaster status Mr Petrov has won numerous international chess championships.

The former Bulgarian chess champion was presented with a toy dragon to thank him for taking part in the tournament.

Rachel McIntosh, Year 6, said: “We are probably going to lose, I am quite nervous to go up against a Grandmaster. I have never played against someone of such a high standard before.”

The chess team are working with the Chess in Schools and Communities, which is a charity which aims to improve children’s educational outcomes through learning to play chess.

Julie McIntosh, parent and chess leader at the primary, said: “Playing chess has great educational benefits, not only with logic, maths, but other subjects such as geography. It teaches the children about responsibility as soon as they’ve made the move there is no going back.”

To donate visit Imogen’s page at: