Children and staff at Derbyshire school create garden in honour of pupil who died

Children and staff at a Derbyshire primary school have created an eco-garden in memory of their friend who died.

Daniel Rigley was eight years old when he died in 2021, after being diagnosed with leukaemia when he was 39 months old.

Pupils and staff at St Thomas’ Catholic Voluntary Academy, Ilkeston, where Daniel was a pupil, raised over £6,000 to create the memorial eco-garden at the school in Church View, Ilkeston.

Funding from East Midlands Airport to create an eco-garden at St Thomas’ has also been used.

The hard landscaping has been completed but the school needs to fill the beds and is appealing to anyone who can donate flowers and plants to contact them.

Originally Daniel’s parents had approached St Thomas’ to ask if a bench could be installed in his memory.

But staff wanted to do more and asked pupils to come up with designs for a garden in the school grounds.

A fundraising campaign was launched which has received donations from the school’s PTA and families.

Andy Gotheridge, Assistant Headteacher at St Thomas, said: “Everyone has been amazing, the support has been incredible. We’ve also had parents offering to help and one of our Teaching Assistants has approached a couple of garden centres.

“We had a design a garden lesson with Year 5 pupils in Daniel’s class and we looked at the basic elements that could be included. We also spoke to Daniel’s parents and they were keen for a bench to be included and strawberry plants as Daniel liked strawberries.

“We gave the pupils the basic shape of the garden and they had a go at designing it. We showed Daniel’s mum and dad the designs and they chose their favourite.”

The successful designer was Harper Barber, 10, and elements of her drawing have been included such as a water feature and beds for plants and flowers. Her design has been incorporated into the EMA eco garden which was already being planned by the school.

Mr Gotheridge said: “Daniel loved playing outside and he grew strawberry plants at home and would pick the strawberries so it will be nice to include them in the garden.”

The school is planning a Mass to celebrate the opening of the garden when it is complete.

Michael Sellors, Headteacher at St Thomas’, said: “We are looking to completing the garden which has transformed a disused piece of land into a beautiful and peaceful reflective space for children and staff to go to remember Daniel, a much loved and missed pupil.”

Anyone who can donate plants and flowers for the garden is asked to contact the school on 0115 9320550.