A group of pupils from Cheadle Catholic Infant & Junior School were crowned winners of Manchester Airport’s eco-garden competition at an event under the Concorde’s wings this afternoon.
The pupils’ presentation captured the imagination of a panel of judges, including trustees from the airport’s Community Trust Fund and a representative from event partners GARDENA. They have secured a £25,000 grant for a new eco-friendly outdoor learning space in a disused area of their school campus.
The Stockport-based school will use the funding to create a sustainable community allotment, growing produce that will then be used in cooking classes, a ‘forest school’ designed to attract native plants and wildlife, and an open-air classroom complete with a weather station that will be used in science and geography sessions.
Of the five other finalist schools, Newall Green Primary School, in Wythenshawe, and Brooklands Primary School, in Trafford, claimed the 2nd and 3rd place prizes of £10,000 and £5,000 respectively.
The competition was announced back in September to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the airport’s Community Trust Fund. It was conceived as a way of promoting environmental awareness among today’s pupils whilst also creating a lasting legacy for generations to come.
Primary schools within a 10-mile radius of the airport – an area which covers parts of Trafford, Manchester, Stockport, Tameside and Cheshire – were invited to submit a proposal for outlining how they would spend the funds on an ‘eco-garden’, designed to act as a learning aid and to promote environmental awareness among pupils.
A total of 22 schools applied, with pupils producing a video explaining their plans. These were whittled down to six finalists, who were invited to pitch their proposals earlier today at a grand final in the Runway Visitor Park’s Concorde hangar.
The other three finalists to present – Peover Superior Endowed Primary School and Bexton Primary School, both in Cheshire, and Lum Head Primary School in Stockport – did not go away empty-handed; GARDENA provided them each with a bundle of gardening tools and equipment to help them bring their green spaces to life.
Pupils also had the opportunity to explore the popular Runway Visitor Park, where the event was being held, including a tour of the Concorde and a visit to the viewing platform to see planes taking off and landing at close quarters.
Chris Woodroofe, managing director at Manchester Airport, said: “I’d like to congratulate Cheadle Catholic Infant & Junior School on their magnificent achievement in winning this competition. Their design was brilliant, innovative and will have a real legacy for generations of pupils to come. The overall standard of the entries was very high and our judges had a really tough time choosing between them.
“It is fantastic that we’ve been able to engage so many pupils in 22 different schools across our catchment area and encouraged them to think about the importance of sustainability and protecting the environment. It is a fitting way to mark 25 years of the Community Trust Fund, which has made, and continues to make, a hugely positive difference in our neighbouring communities.”
Sarah Bentham, UK marketing manager at GARDENA, said: “We are thrilled to be supporting Manchester Airport’s Community Trust Fund as an event partner for its eco-garden competition.
“At GARDENA, we understand the importance of getting children into the great outdoors and learning about the benefits of gardening and creating green spaces, so it made perfect sense for us to team up with the airport group.
“Through this, we have been able to enable the school pupils at Cheadle Catholic Infant & Junior School to secure their new eco-friendly outdoor learning space, as well as offering the finalists bundles of our gardening tools. We are confident that these prizes will be invaluable in their outdoor education, and we are really proud to have been part of this initiative.”
Rachel Fender, Headteacher at Cheadle Catholic Infant & Junior School, said: “We are so proud of the children. They spoke passionately about their plans and winning this competition will open up so many opportunities for them. They really hooked onto the concept of legacy and what this would mean for future generations of pupils.”
All finalists were offered a visit from a mentor to help pupils rehearse their pitch, and Manchester City Councillor Tracey Rawlins, executive member for Environment and Transport, visited Newall Green Primary School. She added: “Congratulations to Newall Green Primary School on winning £10,000 in the Manchester Airport Eco Garden competition.
“It was great to meet the pupils and teachers last week and help the school prepare for their pitch. Manchester Airport’s Community Trust Fund is a great way to raise the awareness to young people on the importance of protecting the environment and encouraging biodiversity. I cannot wait to see their project come to life.”
The Community Trust Fund is overseen by the airport and managed by a committee of independent trustees, including airport colleagues and local councillors. It was established as part of the terms for the construction of the airport’s second runway in 1997, under a Section 106 agreement with local authorities.
The airport contributes £100,000 per year to the fund and trustees meet on a quarterly basis to consider pledges up to £3,000, with applications welcomed from community groups or charities based within 10 miles of the airport.
Information on how to apply for a Community Trust Fund grant, and the full criteria, can be found here.