Manchester Airport unveils winning school in eco-garden competition

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Manchester Airport in the UK has awarded £25,000 (US$30,000) to Cheadle Catholic Infant and Junior School as the winner of its eco-garden competition.

The pupils made a presentation to a panel of judges, including trustees from the airport’s Community Trust Fund and a representative from event partner Gardena. The grant will go toward an eco-friendly outdoor learning space in a disused area of the school campus. It will be a sustainable community allotment, growing produce that will then be used in cooking classes, with 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.

The competition was launched in September 2022. Primary schools within a 16km radius of the airport – an area that covers parts of Trafford, Manchester, Stockport, Tameside and Cheshire – were invited to submit a proposal outlining how they would spend the funds on an ‘eco-garden’, designed to act as a learning aid and promote environmental awareness among pupils. A total of 22 schools applied, with pupils producing videos explaining their plans. These were whittled down to six finalists, who were invited to pitch their proposals at a final in the Runway Visitor Park’s Concorde hangar.

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 (US$12,100) and £5,000 (US$6,000) respectively. The other three finalists – Peover Superior Endowed Primary School and Bexton Primary School, both in Cheshire, and Lum Head Primary School in Stockport – won a bundle of gardening tools and equipment. Pupils also had the opportunity to explore the Runway Visitor Park, including a tour of the Concorde and a visit to the viewing platform to see airplanes taking off and landing at close quarters.

All finalists were offered a visit from a mentor to help pupils rehearse their pitches, and Manchester City councilor Tracey Rawlins, executive member for environment and transport, visited Newall Green Primary School. She said, “Congratulations to Newall Green Primary School on winning £10,000 (US$12,100) 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 of young people about the importance of protecting the environment and encouraging biodiversity. I cannot wait to see their project come to life.”

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 and 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 neighboring 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 and 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 and 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.”

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