Community scarecrow hunt

‘Our PTA scarecrow hunt raised £1,060 towards a new climbing frame’

‘Our school has 300 pupils, aged 7 to 11, of whom 20% come from disadvantaged backgrounds and 12% have additional needs. It is a lovely school with a strong community ethos, and a wide-ranging catchment around Downend, Staple Hill and Fishponds in Bristol. Our school site is used by Christ Church Infants School, as well as cubs, scouts, beavers and sports clubs.

In 2019, the school council, consisting of class reps from every year group, surveyed our pupils about what they wanted. The overwhelming response was: “More things to do and play on at playtimes.”

Currently, the school playground and field have very little climbing equipment. The ‘trim trail’ is more than ten years old and contains wood that is rotting and in constant need of replacement. The past year has been so tough that we felt our children needed something fun to look forward to. So, in response to the pupil survey, the junior school PTA decided to fundraise for an exciting giant wooden clamberstack, while the infant school PTA is raising money for a number of additional outdoor play structures. These goals are supported by both the infant and junior school headteachers, Anna Martin and Pippa Osborne.

Play has many benefits, helping our pupils develop social skills and increasing their self-esteem, as well as improving physical and mental health and promoting imagination, independence and creativity. So we felt it was worth investing in a £23,000 clamberstack which is 91.5 square metres and has three nets and a climbing wall. The climbing frame is accessible to children with mobility limitations or who use wheelchairs, so every child can benefit.

'The past year has been so tough that we felt our children needed something fun to look forward to.'

We estimate that around 400 children will be able to enjoy the clamberstack every year – and we are working with a local Clevedon-based company, Signet Play, to ensure the equipment will be durable, safe and last for many years. 

We have raised £14,000 towards the clamberstack through many school events – and hope to raise the remaining £9,000 before the end of 2022. The first fundraiser was a 10k ‘run’, encouraging pupils to run, walk, hop, scoot or find any way to complete the distance over a period of a few weeks. Another event was a school dance. Karen Davies from Love To Dance supports our children and kindly gave her time one evening to compile a dance class for the parents to come to.

One of our most successful fundraising activities, though, was a weekend scarecrow hunt, which took place in June and was a joint initiative with the infant school PTA. The event was a way of involving the whole school community in our campaign.

We listed over 70 storybook heroes, and invited families to choose or add their own character around our catchment area. Families were then responsible for creating and making their scarecrow character – and these included Buzz Lightyear, The Enormous Crocodile and Matilda.

We used the InvestMyCommunity crowdfunding platform – this allowed us to gather donations electronically and meant the event could be cashless, making it easier for people to join in and donate.

Making a donation, rather than paying a set fee, meant people could offer as much or as little as they were able to, ensuring the event was inclusive for all. A QR code was attached to each scarecrow so that families from outside the school who wanted to join the event could easily donate and be part of the fun. Participants were able to download a list of the scarecrows that they could tick off as they spotted them.

We were fortunate enough to have a beautiful sunny weekend. With the hunt spreading across the local area, people could spend the weekend ticking off the scarecrows they spotted. Some enjoyed searching for them on their bikes and scooters, stopping for an ice cream en route. One of our grandparents even set up a plant sale next to her ‘Mr Potato’ scarecrow – and additions of this kind meant extra money coming in.

In total, we received donations of £906, with just over £154 in Gift Aid, which will be split between both infant and junior campaigns. We also created many memories of a fun-filled community weekend.’

Jodie Godfrey, Friends of Christ Church Juniors, Downend, Bristol