Northumberland forest school rises from the ashes after vandalism attack

A mental health charity has helped bring a brand new forest school area to life after vandals destroyed the original site during lockdown.

By Ian Smith
Thursday, 7th October 2021, 8:00 am

Staff and service users from Blyth Star Enterprises’ woodwork and horticultural departments have worked tirelessly through the summer holidays to transform part of the playing field at Warkworth Primary School into a woodland wonderland.

Forest school has been part of the curriculum at Warkworth Primary for a number of years but the site around one mile away from the school campus was targeted by vandals who used the area as a drinking den before setting fire to it, leaving the site completely unusable.

The school posted a public appeal on social media about the incident, which is how the partnership with Blyth Star Enterprises was established.

Headteacher at NCEA Warkworth Primary School, Laura Ritson, with Kevin Alexander and service users from Blyth Star Enterprises’ woodwork department.

Kevin Alexander, supervisor at Blyth Star Enterprises’ woodwork department, explained: “We were deeply saddened by what had occurred at Warkworth Primary’s forest school site. It was just mindless vandalism and we wanted to do something to help put things right for the children.”

Staff and service users have built a seating area around the fire pit, six new craft tables for outdoor woodwork classes, two mud kitchens, a woodland assault course and a number of full height ‘fairy doors’ to create secret entrances to a network of willow tunnels.

Horticultural staff from Blyth Star’s Stakeford Nurseries also supplied and planted over 40 different trees and shrubs.

Laura Ritson, headteacher, said: “We have been absolutely blown away by the enthusiasm, creativity and determination shown by Blyth Star Enterprises toward our forest school project. Every time Kevin and the team came to site, they had a new idea about how we could make the forest school even more magical for the children.

“Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing is central to everything that we do at Warkworth Primary which made working with Blyth Star Enterprises all the more special, knowing that our forest school project was helping to provide real work experience for people living with lifelong mental health conditions and learning disabilities. We really can’t thank them enough for all of their hard work.”

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Northumberland primary school left devastated by vandalism attack on nature site

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