Manchester Airport launches school eco-garden competition with £25,000 prize

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Manchester Airport in the UK has marked the 25-year anniversary of its community trust fund with a school eco-garden competition and a £40,000 (US$45,000) giveaway.

Schools have been invited to bid for £25,000 (US$28,700) of funding for a garden, play area or outdoor learning space, with a 2nd place prize of £10,000 (US$11,400) and a 3rd place prize of £5,000 (US$5,700) also on offer.

Primary schools within an approximate 10-mile radius of the airport – which covers parts of Trafford, Manchester, Stockport, Tameside and Cheshire – are being given the chance to win a top prize of £25,000 (US$28,700) by designing a garden design to educate and inspire their pupils about the environment. The second- and third-placed schools will receive £10,000 (US$11,400) and £5,000 (US$5,700) respectively to update their outdoor spaces.

Schools hoping to be in with a chance of winning the prize are being asked to submit an application before the deadline of Friday, October 28, with a breakdown of how they would spend the funds and a covering letter outlining the difference this would make, also specifying how they would use the project to promote environmental awareness among pupils. The application will include producing a short video of no more than three minutes, presented by pupils, summarizing the eco-garden proposal and the benefits it will bring. Pupils from six finalist schools will be asked to pitch to the trustees at a grand final event under the wings of the Concorde, at the airport’s Runway Visitor Park, to decide the winners.

In each case, the eco-garden or learning area concept will need to have a lasting beneficial impact on wildlife and biodiversity as well as the education and well-being of students and the wider school community. Selected finalist schools will be contacted by November 21 and will be asked to prepare their brief 10-minute presentation for the trustees, to be given at the grand final on Tuesday, December 6. Schools are encouraged to be creative with their proposals, and the presentation could include artwork, models, digital slides or any other method that the pupils feel gets their ideas across. Pupils will get the chance to rehearse their presentation during a visit from a local MP or airport business partner, who will provide feedback on the plans and mentorship to the pupils set to give the presentation.

Chris Woodroofe, managing director at Manchester Airport, said, “Since it was established in December 1997, the Manchester Airport Community Trust Fund has invested more than £3.5m [US$4m] into worthwhile causes in our neighboring communities. We are very proud of the positive impact it has made in that time. This competition celebrates the fund’s upcoming 25th anniversary in the most fitting way – giving three primary schools in our area an opportunity to create a unique, eco-friendly space that will leave a legacy for the next generation of pupils. We are encouraging applicants to be both innovative and imaginative, making use of space on their school’s campus that needs renovation and giving it a fresh lease of life.”

Mike Kane MP, Shadow Minister for Aviation and UK Member of Parliament for Wythenshawe, said, “As an ex-primary school teacher I am delighted to see this competition for local children. It is a great chance for kids to work together on a scheme to improve their school grounds and I cannot wait to see what they come up with. We all know how important the environment and biodiversity are and it’s great that in its 25th year the Manchester Airport Community Trust Fund will give schools the opportunity to create cleaner, greener spaces which will benefit us all for generations to come.”

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