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MOD apprentices rebuild school garden

31 July 2017
Ministry of Defence engineering apprentices have delighted children by transformed an inner-city garden.

The ageing garden has been reborn after the green-fingered apprentices from HM Naval Base Devonport in Plymouth re-designed, rebuilt and replanted the outdoor classroom and recreational space.

16 apprentices consulted with the children and staff of Mount Wise Primary in Plymouth before creating a pond with wildlife access slope, fledgling orchard, insect haven, benches, raised flower beds and footpath.

Commodore Ian Shipperley, Naval Base Commander, opened the garden as the pupils gave it the thumbs-up.

We gained lots of skills, working as a team, liaising with the community and project management among them. It’s been a very rewarding project.

Shelby Sewart

Kezhal Salih, aged nine, said: “It’s a beautiful garden. I can’t wait for the trees and bushes to grow properly. 

“The old play area was too dangerous for us to play in. But this is really good.’’

Headteacher Chris West: “This is a great space which has already sparked the imagination of the children who seem to love being in it already.

“Of course some of our pupils don’t have a garden as they live in high-rise blocks of flats, so it’s home-from-home for them.

“The garden is multi-use. It’s a space for the children to study the outdoors and all linked subjects and to relax in.  The gardening and science clubs were closely involved in its design.

“They can see where and how food grows in our separate produce garden and will be able to harvest apples and pears.

“They can see the whole chain of planting and growth and then in cooking lessons – it all shows how food gets to our plates.

“We all appreciate the time and effort that has gone into this redesign and rebuild. The apprentices have been very professional, polite, hardworking and a delight to work with.

“They have been very patient in dealing with my many’ bright’ ideas.  We could not have afforded to employ commercial teams for this big project, so from that point of view this has been an aspirational dream come true which will reward many generations to come.’’

Apprentice Shelby Sewart, 18 said: “This has been a mutually beneficial project and it’s brilliant to see the children’s faces as they are already interacting with the garden before it’s fully embedded.

“We gain lots of skills, working as a team, liaising with the community and project management among them. It’s been a very rewarding project.’’

Apprentice Lawrence Parker is on his third career, teaching among them. He said: “This is almost full circle for me, being back in a school.

“The children love the garden. The biggest challenge was physically and logistically, moving heavy materials around a limited site with the bad weather adding to the challenge. 

“But it makes it all worthwhile seeing the happy faces of our youngest customers.’’

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