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Victory Squadron get creative for kids

11 May 2016
Recently a local school, Crofton Hammond Infants, received hands-on assistance from 11 sailors from HMS Collingwood’s Victory Squadron to refresh two outdoor areas located around the site.

With the school currently educating 57 children, who have parents serving in the armed forces; the latest union of the two organisations was a reflection of the ongoing relationship between the school and Royal Navy (RN), which has previously seen pupils attend RN ship visits and the school’s annual red, white and blue themed charity day. 

The Phase 2 trainees were tasked with bringing the ambitious plan for the areas to life. With two days to complete, the team were split into 2 groups. As the school has limited resources to manage and maintain the large areas, this presents them with restrictions when it comes to completing projects internally and therefore it’s key to receive support from organisations.

With the school being accredited by the Forest School Association, continuously improving the outdoor space for learning is very important as the children are required to spend half a school day per week being taught outside. 

Inspired by outdoor learning the creation of the Forest Walk was planned, which involved the sailors forming various obstacles for the children to experience and learn from. This included a wooden tepee and a seating area, made solely from logs found around the area after extensive gardening and removal of brambles had created the perfect space.

Another of the jobs on hand was the restoration of the neglected and overgrown vegetable garden, which will be used to teach the children about the process of germination. The children will have a valuable experience by beginning with planting their own seed and ultimately having the chance to cook with their vegetables. The sailors dug up large tree roots in a bid to prepare the space for potato, carrot and other vegetable seeds to be planted.

Lieutenant John Davies, who organised the manpower, is currently employed at Collingwood as the Capital Ships’ System Engineer Training Manager and he is also a school governor with his 2 children currently attending the school. 

He said of the experience “It’s important for the RN to offer support and interact with the local community; it’s a chance to show the children another side to being part of the military. It’s also a good use of our personnel’s un-programmed time whilst they are waiting to begin a course or waiting for their next draft. This project will take our personnel 2 days, but the work we are doing will be beneficial for the pupils and the school for a long time. “ 

Jacky Halton, Crofton Hammond Infants’ Head Teacher, commented “It’s lovely to receive this support from the RN as many of our pupils have family members serving so it’s great for them to see another side the RN, showing them what Dad or Mum do when they are shore based. The hands on help we receive from HMS Collingwood is a great help from a financial prospective too, it allows us to spread our limited resources further and achieve a lot more in a shorter time frame.”

Crofton Hammond Infants School is now looking forward to getting started on their next project, to provide a meeting place for parents. The new facility will allow the school to provide support for partners of those on long term deployments and help them to connect with non-service families through coffee mornings and other events. 

The school now have the funds in place to begin construction of The Cabin after receiving a generous grant from the Community Covenant Grant scheme, which aims to fund local projects which strengthen the ties or the mutual understanding between members of the Armed Forces Community and the wider community in which they live.

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