Dukinfield school’s special garden supporting bereaved pupils

A GREEN-FINGERED primary school in Dukinfield has added another string to its gardening bow which is supporting children who have lost loved ones.

St Mary’s Catholic Primary on Cheetham Hill Road already has Forest School status and a small vegetable plot.

But staff and pupils have now embarked on another gardening venture, in the space of the Growing Hope garden.

The dedicated plot now serves as a garden for remembrance and building resilience for a small group of the school’s children who have themselves been bereaved.

It came about through an initiative launched by Winston’s Wish, the UK’s first childhood bereavement charity.

Pupils at St Mary’s Primary School

The charity was established in 1992 and named after a bear called Winston who became its mascot.

It provides practical and emotional support to children, young people and those who care for them, through online resources and training for professionals to set up support programmes, such as the Growing Hope garden project.

This allows a group of 12 children the opportunity every week to dig, plant or just sit in the garden on a bench, which was donated by some of the parents.

Nicola Armstrong, the school’s Pastoral Manager, and Suzanne Cooper, the Forest School Practitioner for St Mary’s, have led and supported the project. They are always on hand for a chat if any of the children want to talk.

The garden has planters filled with bright flowers, an arch to support scented jasmine, hanging baskets, and a wildflower bed to attract bees and butterflies.

The main section of the garden is edged with white pebbles, which the children have decorated themselves. There are also plans for fruit bushes to be planted this year, and for the school’s small vegetable plot to be extended.

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