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Stockport schools unveil £25,000 eco-garden after winning competition

Pupils from two neighbouring Stockport schools have unveiled a new £25,000 eco-garden they designed, funded by Manchester Airport’s Community Trust Fund.

Cheadle Catholic Infant and Junior Schools took first place in a special one-off competition to mark the Community Trust Fund’s 25th anniversary. A top prize of £25k was made available to fund a project that would promote environmental awareness among pupils while also creating a legacy for generations to come.

The schools’ winning design incorporated a sustainable community allotment, growing produce that will then be used in cooking classes, a forest school designed to attract native plants and wildlife, and an open-air classroom complete with a weather station that will be used in science and geography sessions.

Local MP Mary Robinson was invited to join pupils for the eco-garden’s official opening on Friday and was taken on a guided tour of the space, where she saw work on the allotments to get them ready for growing crops this summer, and the completed forest school which is now in daily use by pupils, who have sighted toads, birds and even a shrew hanging around its vertical gardens.

A total of 22 primary schools from across southern Greater Manchester and north Cheshire entered the competition, with five finalists selected to give a Dragons’ Den style pitch to the Community Trust Fund’s trustees at the Runway Visitor Park.

Newall Green Primary School, in Wythenshawe, and Brooklands Primary School, in Trafford, claimed 2nd and 3rd place prizes of £10,000 and £5,000 respectively.

Robert Pattison, head of community engagement at Manchester Airport, said: “The concept pitched by Cheadle Catholic Infant & Junior Schools was superb, with tangible benefits not only for pupils today but for those who will follow in their footsteps. 

“It was an ambitious design, so it’s fantastic to see that it has been delivered so well, and it is clear that the schools’ pupils are rightly very proud of what they’ve created.

“The Community Trust Fund is one of the many ways in which Manchester Airport seeks to support its neighbouring communities, and is open to all community groups or charities based within 10 miles of the airport. 

“If you fit those criteria and you have a community-led project you need some help with, we’d love to hear from you.”

Mary Robinson MP said: “It was a pleasure to visit Cheadle Catholic Infant and Junior Schools and witness firsthand their winning design in real life. 

“It was great to see the enthusiasm, energy and passion displayed by the students towards their eco-garden space.

The Community Trust Fund, which has given away more than £4m since its inception in 1997, is overseen by the airport and managed by a committee of independent trustees, including airport colleagues and local councillors.

The airport contributes £100,000 per year to the fund, and trustees meet on a quarterly basis to consider pledges of up to £3,000.

Information on how to apply for a Community Trust Fund grant, and the full criteria, can be found here.

Pamela Glynn, headteacher of Cheadle Catholic Infant School, said: “We’re really proud to see our plans come to fruition and the children’s innovative ideas become a reality. They’re learning about sustainability and the environment, so there’s a real legacy to this project.”

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