Friday, 1 May 2009

My colleague Sarah Tarrant from Middleton St Mary's Church of England Primary School sent me this e-mail...

"Dear Chris, I wrote to you around this time last year, to tell you about our garden project and the support we were receiving from Yorkshire Water. Since then I have secured over £20,000 in funding from The National Lottery Breathing Places programme and Aire Valley Homes to create a new community garden based in our school grounds. Ian Chadwick and Paul Ackroyd at Red Hall Nurseries have generously supported the project with their designs, planting and their team's superb workmanship. They are a credit to the council. Despite all the stresses of Chelsea, they are continuing to support our project and particular children within our gardening club. Neil Diamond and the Inner South Team at Aire Valley Homes, have supported us by dontating £10,000 to create and outdoor classroom for the garden. This was on our long term wish list but has been made possible by their committee. Their support has been invaluable in enabling us to now open up the garden to the public at appropriate times in the school day. We are inviting Middleton Elderly Aid to come for tea on the lawn in June which will be served by year 6. A local school has booked the garden for 2 afternoons next month to study the wildlife and enjoy the space to write and paint. The National Lottery have given us almost £10,000 to create the path, planters and organise a community event to open the community garden. The whole community is invited with guests coming from 3 schools in Europe that we are in partnership with through the Comenius programme. The opening event is to coincide with the Breathing Places weekend and representatives from the National Lottery will also be attending. They will be publicising the event. I would like to personally invite you to the opening event. You were very encouraging when I last wrote to you and your words meant a great deal. I have since made links with Middleton Primary School who's Head, Sam Williams, is inspirational in her tireless work to regenerate the school and give her children the opportunity to work outside and within the whole community. I am currently working on links with corporate funding for her project so she can move on and create an outdoor classroom in her grounds. The open event will start at 3pm until...well...we have all relaxed and (hopefully) enjoyed the sunshine! There will be live music from our school choir and Seikou Susso, a parent at school who teaches traditional music. Middleton Primary will have a stall, to raise funds for their project, selling home grown vegetables and plants, alongside gifts and crafts. For me personally, it would mean a great deal if you were to attend and to the children and staff involved. I have asked Ian Chadwick to be there of course, I owe him a large glass of bubbly! It is one year next week, since our previous Head, Debbie Wood, passed away. We have named the garden "Woodlands" in her honour. Groundworks have also featured the garden in their banners which are going to be put in place in Middleton during May. It was such an honour to be chosen. One boy, who I teach, has had his model garden photographed and will be in the Hesco Garden brochure for Chelsea this year. The Red Hall team have shown this young man just how much he can achieve and that he has a true talent. We are so proud of him. I hope you are well and look forward to speaking with you soon. Hope to see you at the garden opening, if not before. Yours, Sarah."

It is brilliant to hear about Sarah's passion, commitment and hard work which has achieved something quite remarkable at Middleton St Mary's CE Primary School. The partnership working she has developed and the impact it has had at the school shows us all what is possible with Sarah's persistence, determination and energy. It is also wonderful that the garden has been named in memory of Debbie Wood who was a talented, gorgeous, wonderful and inspiring headteacher who we all miss.


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