Highways England challenge in Area 9 leads to transformation of primary school garden

A neglected pond area at Bentley West Primary School in the West Midlands was transformed into a garden and open area for children as part of the competition.

The work was carried out by a team called Branching Out and Making Roots and the project won first place in the challenge which originally ran before Christmas. But it didn’t end there.

The team have continued to stay in touch with the Walsall school and recently returned to carry out weeding, planting, tidying and some more improvements to the garden.

And it wasn’t just this school that has benefitted. The other teams who took part in the challenge have also been revisiting their good causes.

Highways England staff and workers from its 14 supply chain partners in the Area 9 Strategic Road Network Alliance took part in the original challenge. Each organisation put some money into a charity pot. The partners were then divided into three teams and challenged to develop the best project helping a worthy cause within three miles of the Highways England road network.

Team 5ynergy worked with Art4Charity in Birmingham creating three murals at the Solihull base of the charity Mind to brighten up the site and raise awareness of the charity. They also carried out some maintenance work. Since then, members of the team have returned to do some gardening, painted a hut and built a shelter. One of the businesses, Roocroft, also donated wheelbarrows to the charity.

The third group, Team Anneka, built a new tool shed for Acorns Children’s Hospice in Walsall which was also turned into Santa’s grotto for the children to enjoy a Covid-safe Christmas experience with lights switch-on, carols, mince pies and presents.

Access to the hospice has been limited during the Covid-19 pandemic but the team have stayed in touch and are planning when they can return to help out with more maintenance work there.

Highways England Head of Service Delivery Andrew Butterfield said: “When we initially launched the challenge we wanted the teams to develop projects that would have an impact on the local community and also leave a legacy. It is fantastic to see that all three teams are continuing to volunteer their time and carry on that great work so their efforts will impact on these very worthy causes for a long time to come.”

Suzanne Tarpey, Headteacher at Bentley West Primary School, said: “It’s fantastic to see the continued commitment from the whole team. It’s great that the team want to maintain links and we really appreciate any of the works that are carried out to maintain and further improve the site. It’s of such benefit to the children.”

Judges allocated differing shares of the £12,000 prize pot to the first, second and third place teams to be donated to a charity of their choice. The charities to benefit from the prize pot were Acorns Children’s Hospice, Solihull Mind and the Black Country Food Bank.

Pic-Highways England

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