‘Our community came together to restore our outdoor space’

St Mary’s CofE Primary School appealed to supporters to revamp their memorial garden.

‘When we set up “The Petal Appeal” to returf our memorial garden, we never expected the community to come together as it did to support us.  

Years of wear and tear, a lack of sunlight and constant footfall made our school grounds dusty in summer and muddy in winter. A large section of this space is “John’s garden”, a memorial dedicated to a pupil who passed away, and we wanted to bring the garden back to its former glory.

We aimed to raise enough money to returf this space with artificial grass through events and fundraising drives. We knew if we were going to invest in returfing then we needed to begin by regenerating the area, so we invited the whole community to come and help on a dedicated day.

Before our community day took place in April, we canvassed local businesses for donations. Our local B&Q store gave us lots of plants, and B&M donated a cash sum that we spent on tools, birdseed, bunting and turps. A parent, who works for Laing O’Rourke, secured a large donation of paint (with plenty left to repaint this year) and lots of wood for rebuilding benches and play equipment, as well as overalls, paint brushes, tarpaulin and gloves. The same parent helped massively with construction on the day, alongside our chair’s husband, who owns local paving company R Way Paving Ltd. 

A grandparent and former head of parks and gardens at Liverpool City Council came forward to be in charge of pruning and planting. We were extremely fortunate, and thanks to people’s help and generosity the whole day only cost us a couple of hundred pounds.

To recruit volunteers we sent flyers and reply slips home. Our community day ran from 10am to 7pm, with a steady stream of volunteers arriving throughout the day. Our chair delegated specific tasks as people arrived, with a focus on completing one area at a time to avoid unfinished paint jobs. We had music playing to keep spirits up, our school cook donated a vat of curry and rice, and the PTFA paid for drinks and sandwiches. 

This type of day is dependent on planning. Plan for rain and make sure you have enough materials, including turps to mop up spills. Enjoy the day and don’t stress if something goes wrong – your volunteers are all trying to do the best for the same cause.’

Joanne Lamkin, PTFA chair, St Mary’s CofE Primary School, West Derby, Liverpool (214 pupils)