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A taste of paradise every day after Rotary Club of Sidcup complete a tropical sensory garden for special needs children at a Sidcup school.

Added on: 10th May, 2018 by Derek Hope - Kent Photonews

A taste of paradise every day after Rotary Club of Sidcup complete a tropical sensory garden for special needs children at a Sidcup school.

Last Updated:
Thu, 10 May 2018

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A team of gardening enthusiasts from The Rotary Club of Sidcup have been working over a period of three years to make a sensory garden that provides colour, smell, sound and touch for the children at Marlborough School in Sidcup which caters for children with special needs.

The scheme, led by Rotarians from the Vocational and Youth Opportunities Committee at the club has been completed in three stages, the clearing of the garden in the quadrangle that forms the centre of the school and the planting of shrubs and flowers. This was followed a year later by the installation of a sound system to help with lessons outdoors and allowing pupils to enjoy music and the sounds of bird song, tropical forest noises and crashing waves. The final touch was added on Thursday 10th May, when a carved Western Red Cedar Totem Pole was presented to the school by the club and dedicated by the Mayor of Bexley, Cll. Peter Reader.
The twelve foot tree was provided by the Forestry Commission who sourced it from Bedgebury National Pinetum in Kent, and was carved by David Lucas (Chainsaw Dave), a chainsaw artist from East Sussex, whose work can be seen in many public places, National Trust properties, Kew Gardens, parks and wildlife centres.
Children at the school were invited to say what they would like see in the carvings, and after meetings between David, Head Teacher Linda Lee and members of Rotary, a final design was drawn up which included a wise old owl at the top of the pole symbolising the Head Teacher, with a variety of smaller animals chosen by the children plus vines and leaves on the main trunk.
There is still one finishing touch to go, applying wood dye to both enhance the colour and preserve the wood for as long as possible. This will be done by scenic artist Georgina Foster (Grand daughter of Rotarian Erik Foster), during the school summer holidays.
After the presentation Peter Wilkes, president of the Rotary Club of Sidcup said: “This has been a very worthwhile and interesting project for our club. The sensory garden looks lovely and we hope that the finished project will give years of pleasure for the children at the school”.

Head Teacher Linda Lee said: “Thanks to the Rotary Club of Sidcup, we have an added dimension to the education of our pupils. The beautiful carved totem pole is the centre piece of an oasis of calm in the lovely sensory garden that they have created”.
Pictures show:- Mayor of Bexley, Cll Peter Reader and the Mayoress Irene Reader, Peter Wilkes, president of the Rotary Club of Sidcup, pictured with the carved Canadian Red Cedar Wood totem pole and some of the Rotary Club of Sidcup members who helped put the plan into motion, and Linda Lee, Head Teacher at Marlborough Special Needs School.
The Mayor of Bexley, Cll Peter Reader, with the President of the Rotary Club of Sidcup, and Linda Lee, Head Teacher at Marlborough Special Needs School who accepted the gift of the carved wooden totem pole.
Chainsaw Dave sets to work.

• Marlborough School is a secondary special school which caters for students with severe, complex and physical learning difficulties. The 80 students have a statement of special education needs relating to severe, profound and multiple difficulties, autistic spectrum and other complex needs or sensory impairments and communication difficulties. There are also a number of students who have medical needs, physical disabilities and challenging behaviours. The school works in partnership with several other local schools and colleges of further education.

• The Rotary Club of Sidcup would like to thank Walkers Builders Merchants Ltd from Orpington for providing transport of the Western Red Cedar Wood tree and Ruxley Manor Nurseries for providing plants, shrubs and advice.
Pictures by Derek Hope-Kent Photonews and Kent Photonews Syndications

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