EDUCATION: Green fingered Catholic primary school pupils create memorial garden to their former teacher

Green-fingered youngsters at a Northumberland Catholic primary school have helped to create a new garden space in the school grounds. The Reflection Garden at St Bede’s, Bedlington was developed by the father of two of the school’s pupils, with areas allocated to each year group to plant and maintain. It’s also a permanent memorial to a much-loved member of the school family.

“The children wished for the area to be a place where children and adults could reflect upon past, present, and the future,” said Headteacher Therese Worrall. “It can be a prayer space for children, and it can also be a place of growth.

As well as the children taking part in the project, St Bede’s is keen for parents and carers to get involved.

We would love the children to work with their grown-ups from home to maintain what is there and plant new flowers and shrubs,” continued Mrs Worrall. “Each class will have the bed year after year, with the Year 6 children passing to the new Reception each September. Gardening can be done at the beginning or end of the school day, and, if anyone has any spare time during the day, they are also very welcome to come and help.

Designed to promote calm and foster a love of nature, the space also features a memorial plaque to Joan Riley, a former governor and teacher at the school, a member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust. Besides her long standing role as school governor, Mrs Riley saw her children and four grandchildren attend the school and was a parishioner at St Bede’s Church.

There are some very important people who helped St Bede’s become the wonderful school that it is, and one particular person was Mrs Joan Riley,” explained Mrs Worrall. “She was key to the school developing at the beginnings to a new chapter as it converted from a first school to a primary school in 2010. Joan continued to provide strong, strategic leadership as Chair of Governors for many years – she was also the voice of reason for me as a headteacher. Sadly, Joan passed away in September 2020, and she is a huge miss to all who loved her, including the St Bede’s community.

Comments from the children on the new garden included Lily, who said, “It’s to have a little moment to yourself”, and Grace, who said: “It allows every class to have some responsibility and make the areas look nice.

Fellow pupil Sadie added: “It’s to help us remember important people like my Grandma Joan.

We look forward to seeing how the once bland, muddy, dull area continues to flourish throughout the year, and children and adults enjoy time there,” said Mrs Worrall.



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