North East Connected

Vandalised garden for disabled students reopens after overwhelming response for the community

A REVAMPED garden building that brings joy and educational opportunities to students with complex, profound and multiple learning disabilities has reopened after being vandalised by heartless intruders.

Parents, students and staff were invited to a formal opening at Beaumont Hill Academy, part of the Education Village, Darlington, after an overwhelming response from the community.

The garden, complete with a large building, is now better than ever, according to teacher Penny Thompson.

Cruel intruders not only destroyed plants, damaged doors and stole scooters but they also killed a hedgehog that had taken up residence.

“Horticulture is a huge part of their learning,” said Penny. “They love it and we can use it to integrate maths and English into their learning, teach them how to follow instructions and prepare them for adult skills.

“Volunteers helped clear the area, make it more accessible for wheelchairs and we have had so many donations, large and small, to get the area operational again. From a very upsetting start, this has brought the very best out of people and it is a privilege to be part of this community.

“We were very sad but the response has been absolutely mind-blowing. We now have a magnificent space which children can use for lessons and socially and we can’t say thank you enough.”

One parent, Gemma Brown, organised a Just Giving page which raised £1,644.15; local golfer David Lewis raised £1,800 with a 72-hole competition; site owners Kagima offered its support as did site operator Mitie; Ravensworth Nurseries donated plants; Pretty Wild Seeds donated seeds; Total Protection provided new security cameras; Fall Timber provided a bench; Darlington Timber Sheds erected the shed; and Aire Valley installed raised beds.

“It was so emotional when parents started turning up with plants, money and help,” added Penny. “People just kept giving and what we have now is actually better than we had before.”

Kagima asset manager David Moss added: “This has been a fantastic example of partnership working, of parties coming together to work for the benefit of all, particularly the children.”

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