Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 14.23.52EVERYTHING in the garden was Roary when Middlesbrough’s football mascot helped officially open a new school facility.

The football-mad lion was joined by dad and contractor James Harkin in cutting the ribbon at a reading garden, at Springfield Academy, in the Education Village, Darlington.

Last year’s Year 6 students wrote to principal Angela Henderson asking her to consider a request for a special area for reading and storytelling at lunchtimes.

One of the pupils Kelsey Harkin told her dad James, who works for landscape production and street furniture specialists Marshalls. When he told his boss about the project, the North Shields firm agreed to donate four steel seats, which were painted in the schools’ bright red livery.

MFC works with Springfield Academy delivering weekly PE sessions so Roary and Mr Harkin were asked to perform the honours at a special opening ceremony for the reading garden.

The pupils, who are now at Haughton Academy, were invited along to see how the area had been developed since they left Springfield.

Mrs Henderson said: “Pupils’ letters were fantastic and I was more than happy to agree to their request. We were just starting to look at catalogues and think about ways of raising the money when Mr Harkin said Marshalls would provide the equipment, which is fabulous.

“Reading is absolutely critical to development and learning and there is a huge push to help pupils appreciate the pleasure and benefits it brings. If they can read fluently by the end of Year 6 it makes a massive difference to their learning at secondary school. The new garden is already being well used by pupils who enjoy the peace and quiet the environment offers for them to read.”

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