Children go wild for new green space
SCHOOLCHILDREN in a Derbyshire village can now get their hands dirty outside after the community rallied round to give them their first ever green space – with the helping hand of a county-based chemicals company.
Children at Milford Primary, an old mill school perched at the foot of a steep hill on the outskirts of Belper, previously only had a tarmac playground in which to let off steam.
Head teacher Cathy Kinsella asked parents whether they could find any green space for children at the school to use, and the Milford Community Green Space project was born. Local people acquired two disused allotments to create the space, with a third now added to make it even bigger.
Lubrizol, an additives company based in a rural location at Hazelwood near Belper, has now provided locally felled wooden benches so children can sit around a newly constructed fire pit while taking part in Milford Primary’s Forest Schools sessions.
Lubrizol made the donation through former employee David Moreton, who has been heavily involved in the Milford Green Space project, and the benches have been made from larch wood felled from a local forest.
David, of Belper, has now retired from his job at Lubrizol, where he managed the chemical synthesis department. A keen gardener, he does not drive and loved walking to Lubrizol’s rural base at Hazelwood every day while at work – two and a half miles each way.
He said: “We started the Milford Green Space group in July 2020. The area had been used for allotments and was just like a jungle. It was thick with ivy, and it took us three months to hack all that away. All sorts of things have now been put into it: raised beds to grow vegetables, an area for the children to have stories, a shed, an entrance ladder, a wigwam, a den building area, and a mud kitchen.”
Kate Tuck, who runs Milford Primary School’s Forest Schools sessions in their new green space, said the project had flourished since being started up. Parents and helpers on the site have reported it improves their mental health and sense of wellbeing to be working outside in the fresh air.
Kate said: “The space is now used by the school during term time and school hours, and by the community for the rest of the time. We’ve had ongoing projects to improve the site and resources, and are finishing off the fire pit area and starting a sensory maze.
“The benches have been made with timber felled from larch trees in Shining Cliff Woods, where I run a hostel, so they are local, have been acquired from a local supplier, adding up to a reduced carbon footprint!”
Head teacher Cathy Kinsella said she was delighted that children were now getting such opportunities to enjoy part of their education outside. She said: “Our children didn’t have any access to green space before. A group of parents have made this incredible community space for them. The children love it up there – it’s a very valuable thing for us.”