Thanks to funding from the Guernsey Community Foundation, Social Investment Fund (SIF) and other generous donors, the children of Sark School will benefit from a tailor-made playground and outdoor learning area, the first of its kind in Sark.
The new playground, which has been designed and project managed by Friends of Sark School (FoSS), caters for children aged 3 to 13. The project has taken a full year to complete and was opened on Wednesday 21st September by Michelle Brady, Sark’s new Head of School.
The £60,000+ playground includes a large climbing frame with slide, buddy board, basketball hoop and target board, play train & station, mini 3 piece trim trail, sand box, outdoor play kitchen, bespoke planter benches and wet-pour safety surfacing with an integrated mirror me floor game and bespoke track design for bicycles. The playground wraps around the entire school building, making use of previously wasted space.
The Foundation and SIF each contributed a third of the funding and the Foundation helped secure a further third from a private charitable trust. Jim Roberts (pictured), Chief Executive of the Foundation said: “Having agreed to donate £20,000 through our Grants Programme, we helped raise further funds by calling on other grant-givers.”
FoSS raised the remainder of funds with help from several other corporate donors and grant-givers, including Skipton Community Fund, Investec Bank Community Donations, Co-operative Community Fund, Island Electrics, Rock Trustees, Style Heating & Plumbing, Sark Bonfire Night Charity and private individuals who supported their fundraising events.
Rosalie La Trobe-Bateman, Chairperson of FoSS, explained: “The lack of outdoor play facilities at the School had been highlighted for some time and initial efforts to tackle the problem were made by former Head of School, Dr Nicholas Roberts, and FoSS member Adam Turner, who completed a running challenge last year to raise funds for outdoor play equipment. However, FoSS quickly recognised that if real change was to be brought about we would need to set our goals higher.”
Over the next few months FOSS worked alongside former Acting Head, Mr Nick Wolfe, on developing a comprehensive plan to completely transform the outdoor area of Sark School into a playground that truly met the needs of the children and was on par with standards expected in Guernsey or the UK.
In December the group presented its project plan to members of Sark’s Chief Pleas and received the green light to proceed. Further on-island fundraising events and grant applications then took place, and by May FoSS had reached its funding target.
“We couldn’t be more delighted with the end result and thank our generous donors and all those who have contributed to help make this dream a reality. To see the children so excited for school each morning makes all the hard work worth it,” said Mrs La Trobe-Bateman.
Mr Roberts considers the project a good example of how the Foundation can help – and a reminder that, despite its name, it supports community projects and charities outside of Guernsey.
“We will assist charities anywhere in the Bailiwick,” he explained. “And, as happened with Friends of Sark School, we can use our contacts within the philanthropic community to unlock other sources of funding.”
Mrs La Trobe-Batemant said: “We now have an outdoor play and learning area that the children of Sark School will benefit from for many years to come. It will immeasurably improve the daily educational experience of Sark’s schoolchildren and boost the morale of our whole community, which is exactly what our charity aims to do.”