School creates Spiritual Garden with Hibiscus Project grant

Published: Tuesday August 9, 2022

A large cross behind a mirrored orb feature as part of the Spiritual GardenAs part of its commitment to become an Eco School, Shurdington Church of England Primary School applied to The Hibiscus Project for funds to create a Spiritual Garden in the grounds.  The garden is now complete and ready for the new school term.

Catherine, Chair of the Parents Teachers and Friends Association (PTFA), says, “The garden was originally constructed before my time at the school (over five years ago) after the death of a school staff member. It was called ‘Kath’s garden’ in her memory. In recent years it had become in a worse state until just over three years ago the headmaster condemned it as being unsafe for the children to use. The wooden seating area had rotted away, as had the flower-boxed borders, and the central water feature was broken and unsafe. The garden being left in such a state was really upsetting to the children, and meant they had nowhere other than a few benches in the playground where they could sit at break times.”

The redevelopment of the school’s memorial garden was part of the school Eco Committee’s ‘Eco-Code‘, which looks at different aspects of school life and ways to make them more eco-friendly. The headmaster invited the PTFA to raise funds to regenerate the garden with the idea that it will still be a memorial to Kath but also become a central prayer station within the school.

Catherine says, “The school only has around 180 children, so raising funds isn’t as easy as in a larger school, and then COVID hit. We missed two years of our two biggest fundraising events, which were our fireworks displays and Christmas Fayres. However, with generous donations from The Hibiscus Project, £1,000 from Tewkesbury Borough Council and £50 from Badgeworth Parish Council, combined with our 2021 fireworks display, school disco and non-uniform day, we managed to raise enough funds to get the work completed this summer. The total cost was around £5,500.”

The PTFA arranged for a local sculpting company, Oakey Bear, to spend a day with the children to construct a six-foot willow sculpture cross.

“The children had a brilliant, enriching day and this also means they have their beautiful work on display in the garden which they can be proud of.  They have very much enjoyed being back in the space, spending their break and lunchtimes chatting in there and during whole-class worship.

“The space is really important as we are an Eco School, where the children are taught to care for God’s creation. It is now the central station to other prayer areas around the school. The children enjoy their time in the garden and respect it as being a place of prayer and reflection.”

Bishop Robert has been invited into the school and church for their Eco Week in September, where they will hold services celebrating creation within the garden. The Bishop will then re-dedicate the garden to the memory of Kath, and bless the cross sculpture.

“This has been a wonderful project for me to be a part of, as not only am I chair of the PTFA, I am also a (now) second-year ordinand with the Benefice (The Greenway Benefice: St Paul’s Shurdington, St Mary’s Witcombe with Bentham and Holy Trinity Badgeworth), so it has been brilliant to help facilitate the two groups working together.”

The Hibiscus Project was developed in memory of Neil Todd. Neil was a victim of Peter Ball and tragically took his own life in August 2012. Worshipping communities can apply for grants of up to £350 from The Hibiscus Project to support projects that enable a welcoming and caring church.

Read more about The Hibiscus Project.

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