Army of 44 helpers gets stuck into heavy-duty gardening for Waterlooville school

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BUGS, birds and hedgehogs will now be made welcome in a Waterlooville school field treated to a spruce-up by a team of business volunteers.

The group of 44 employees of IBM and maintenance services company Johnson Controls, spent the day digging, trimming, pruning and building at Padnell Infants School’s green – known as Joey’s Field – all day yesterday.

Their team leader, Sarah Hall, of IBM, is the mother of five-year-old Ethan Hall-Meredith who attends the infants school.

She said: ‘Every single person who said they’d volunteer on the day turned up, which is a first in all the four years I’ve been volunteering for IBM.

‘We had a fantastic day even though it was hard work, and it was helped by the good weather and seeing what a difference we were making to Joey’s Field.

‘There were two main areas that needed clearing. The first was around the pond which was hidden behind lots of brambles which we’ve now cleared up in time for its relining at the end of July so the children can learn about pond life.

‘The other area was around the planned outdoor classroom area which was completely overgrown with brambles and hedges, some of them 6ft high.

‘We also created a nature trail with three wooden bug hotels, a hedgehog home and bird boxes which were kindly donated by Homebase.’

She added: ‘As a mother I’m thrilled I could do this for the benefit of my son and his friends who will be at the school for another couple of years.’

Headteacher Michelle Petzer said she was delighted with the work which will contribute to plans to build an outdoor classroom with toilets in the 1.5-acre plot, and added: ‘It’s been superb to watch that many people give up their own time to come and work and help us.

‘It’s like having an army of helpers, and they have accomplished so much. The bug and hedgehog homes are delightful, and they’ve cleared away lots of dead wood and brambles so we can do our camp fires. We can’t thank them enough.’

To donate to the £30,000 outdoor classroom project call (023) 9226 3784.