It was a glorious day on Monday 15th July 2019 – the perfect day to officially open our Peace Garden to staff and students. It had been a worthwhile wait, with work starting in the February half-term and, up until now, students had not stepped foot on the new garden.
The garden was built in collaboration with United Utilities, who contacted builders Laing O’Rourke to oversee developments, as the water company are building a huge pollution-busting storm tank under the school field. They found the perfect way to say thanks to students and teachers – by turning dreams for an eco-friendly tranquility garden into reality!
The stunning new sensory garden – complete with grass-roofed pagoda, solar-powered water fountain, water butts and recycling bins – was handed over to The Hathershaw College by United Utilities and its contractors, and named the Peace Garden by students. The new area provides a much-needed quiet, safe space at the college, which houses the area’s only specialist hearing resource centre for profoundly deaf students.
It was built by an army of staff, contractors and suppliers while also building a £46m underground stormwater storage tank in another part of the school field. When finished, United Utilities’ new tank will help clean up the River Medlock.
The final design was drafted with the help of some of the school’s 1,056 pupils and also features a special panel featuring all the different languages spoken in the school. To minimise the impact on pupils’ education, all the heavy work took place during school holidays. Water firm United Utilities, together with its principal contractor Laing O’Rourke and nine other contract partners donated all the planning, materials and labour for free.
Mr Travis, whose role includes leading on safeguarding at the college, said the new resource would have a great long-term impact for students and staff. “The majority of our pupils live in the local area which is made up of predominantly terraced housing. This means that they have little or no outdoor space to appreciate and to spend time in. That is why this garden will make such a difference to their emotional wellbeing and their awareness of the environment; two of the most pressing issues we hear about today. This garden will add great value to the school as it is a safe, calming and private ‘retreat’ for our students; this is a rare place to find in a busy secondary school and it will be invaluable for our students and staff. With the links to Healthy Active Lifestyles and Healthy Living the possibilities are endless,” he said.
United Utilities project manager Lucy Barnes said, “The school desperately needed an area where pupils could take time out from the day-to-day stresses of learning and we worked with them to design this area. Lots of people working on the scheme have done their bit to make it happen.”
We would like to thank United Utilities and principal contractor Laing O’Rourke who have led the design and construction of the garden, with support from key suppliers PP O’Connor, Bethells, Donegans, Joseph Gallagher, Termstall, Grand Engineering, Alphaplus, Suprafilt and Interface. Karen McDermott of Laing O’Rourke said everyone had enjoyed putting something back and even local supermarkets were donating plants.
Please see our time-lapse video, below, for a glimpse of the before and after comparison.