New outdoor learning area for youngsters – thanks to Bradford Estates

Youngsters at a school on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border have a new outdoor learning area – thanks to the generosity of Bradford Estates.

St John’s First School in Bishops Wood was drawing a blank in applying for funding for the project when one of the parents suggested asking Viscount Alexander Newport for help.

Lord Newport donated £7,000 on behalf of Bradford Estates and he and his fiancée Eliza Liepina visited the school last week to meet the children and view the new outdoor learning area – the couple’s first joint public engagement.

Emma Challiner, Head at St John’s First School, said: “We were looking into getting new equipment, some heavy-duty structures, and enquired about funding from various sources but everyone came back saying sorry, there was no funding available. One of our parents suggested writing to Lord Newport asking if there was any chance of helping us.

“He very kindly said yes and gave us a cheque for £7,000, which has allowed us to get some amazing things for the children – and they are thoroughly enjoying it!

“We have a playhouse which the children sometimes use as a garage and pretend to fill their bikes up with petrol, and sometimes they use it as a cafe and ride around it pretending it’s a drive through. We have a huge wooden frame structure which involves putting pipes together for water or a ball to run through it – which is marvellous for problem solving.

“There are sand and water features and another piece of equipment which has a number of posts with holes in where the children thread string through it, make dens and climb through. It’s up to them what they do with it and how they use it.

“It’s absolutely fantastic for the school and we were delighted to welcome Lord Newport and his fiancée to have a look at what we have. The children were so thrilled to see them and they were so lovely with the children. The outdoor learning area means so much to the school and we are so touched by his generosity.”

Miss Liepina said: “It was a delight to meet the children and staff at the school and look around their new outdoor learning area. The children really seemed to love it and it’s so important for them to have access to this kind of equipment, something which will aid their learning experience.”

Lord Newport, who is Managing Director of Bradford Estates, said: “Outdoor learning is so important, particularly as children have missed out on so many opportunities and school activities such as trips and residentials due to the pandemic.

“Bradford Estates is committed to supporting the local community and one of the cornerstones of a community is its school. We were delighted to be able to help St John’s First School in bringing a vision to life. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the school to see first-hand this impressive new outdoor learning area.”