Abbey Primary School has taken its fundraising to new levels. Supporters are raising sponsorship cash to create a sensory garden at the school.
For the second year, staff, pupils and parents are being encouraged to climb our highest hills – Duncliffe, Melbury and Hambledon – as part of the ‘Three Peaks Challenge’. “It’s very important for all families to spend time outside together and it’s a great message to our Shaftesbury families that there are great things to do – free things to do – and very healthy things on our doorstep,” said Headteacher Michael Salisbury.
“It’s just been an absolute joy to me to see children coming in after the weekend and saying what a wonderful time they’ve had climbing our local hills. And for their parents, who might not have chosen to do that activity at the weekend and may have gone to Yeovil to go to the cinema, but instead, they go and climb some hills.”
Parent Sarah Junor ran the London Marathon for the appeal. Her daughter, Year 5 pupil Beatrice Junor, has climbed all three hills. “I did them with my dog and my mum,” she explained, adding that their Jack Russell, Honey, had enjoyed the experience.
Fundraisers don’t have to tackle each of the peaks but some pupils have really pushed themselves. “I came across a family who did all three in one day, and they were in Shaftesbury getting some refuelling before they did their third peak. They get credit for just doing one peak and one peak is better than none,” Michael said.
That credit comes in house points and a party is planned in St James’ Park on 18th June. “Then we celebrate. All the children who’ve taken part get to have a special treat at the end of it, whether they’ve done one peak, two peaks or three,” said Michael.
The Headteacher has led by example, tackling the peaks with his wife and his dog. “I’ve managed to get up two of them so far and I’ve got one more to do. I’m very confident I’ll be able to do it because it’s my favourite of the three, Hambledon Hill, which is where I used to live. I’m very fond of that hill,” said Mr Salisbury. He says it’s his family’s ‘special place’ and he tackles the summit from the Child Okeford side.
Year 5 pupil Alice Partridge considered that peak to be the toughest climb. “You think that you’ve got to the top but I just kept on seeing more and more hill,” said Alice.
Her friend Beatrice disagrees over which hill challenge is hardest. “Melbury, because it’s really steep. Hambledon is kind of more of a gentle slope, whereas Melbury is just straight up. It goes down and up.”
Seasoned walker Mr Salisbury has advice for any pupils and parents still to complete the challenge before the June 2nd deadline. “Take very small steps when it gets very steep, as does Duncliffe and Melbury at different points as well. Small steps, and every step is getting you slightly closer to the top. Then you don’t get quite so worn out as you do if you’re taking great big strides.”
With the London Marathon money generated by Sarah Junor and parent Emma Partridge, Michael is confident that the sensory garden, estimated to cost around £3,000, will be funded. Any excess funds will go to the school library. “I would be very optimistic that we can get on and create the beautiful sensory garden that we’ve been planning in our new ‘stomping ground’ area of the school,” he said.
Staff and pupils are lucky in that their school location offers commanding views toward Melbury Hill and the Blackmore Vale. And the outdoor space used by the pupils will be further enhanced by grant money from Tesco. The school had received £4,000 from the supermarket’s Bags of Help scheme. That has paid, in part, for a rainwater collection system that will feed the wildlife pond from the school roof. Earlier this week, wildflower meadow turf was laid, and a new pathway installed.
Members of the public will be able to view the transformation at the school’s Summer Fete on Friday 28th June.