There’s a growing sense of peace and community in Brecon, thanks to Priory Church in Wales School’s new garden.
Y Gardd Heddwch – the Peace and Community Garden – which boasts a tepee and space for pupils to reflect and play, was officially opened by local councillor and school governor Matthew Dorrance and blessed by the Archbishop of Wales. Pupil Oliver, from the school council, thanked everyone who had helped to make the project a reality.
The garden was the brainchild of school head Lynsey McCrohon, who said: “The vision for developing the Peace and Community Garden was to create a space where children could relax in a quiet, safe and secure setting, and for the children to enjoy being outside without the restrictions of a normal indoor classroom environment.
“Pupil Voice indicated to staff that outside play was generally quite noisy, busy and fast paced and a vast majority of the children wanted to have a place where they could escape all that and have a space to socialise, be calm and peaceful.
“Of course, as a Church in Wales Primary School, it was also incredibly important to us all that we were able to offer a space that gives the children and staff opportunity to have peace, quiet and time for reflection.”
The project cost £45,000 and was made possible through the support of the Armed Forces Covenant Fund, the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, Brecon Rotary Club, the Powys Endowment Fund and a huge fundraising effort by the Friends of Priory School.
“I’m incredibly thankful to all those who believed in the project and awarded us grants to make our dream come true,” Lynsey said. “I’m also very proud of the Governing Body’s commitment to providing a space that supports pupil well-being and mindfulness, as well as creating a space that enriches the curriculum, which saw them invest a portion of the current year’s Pupil Development Grant towards the project to ensure the children could access a safe, secure and stimulating learning environment all year round.”
Thanking everyone who had helped to raise the money for the project, Cllr Dorrance said: “It’s a real privilege to officially open the garden and tepee project. When Mrs McCrohon came to the governing body with this idea, I didn’t think it was going to work but I’m not ashamed to say I was wrong.
“What it shows is the strength of leadership of our brilliant new headteacher at Priory who cannot only take people who agree with her along on a journey but those who are sceptical too, and I think it’s a real credit to our school to have someone with that drive and determination who is able to convince people about the right thing to do.”
Oliver said: “On behalf of the school council we would like to thank everyone who has been involved and for coming to support us. We wanted a quiet place to relax and be at playtime, and our community garden and tepee is a place where we can make friends and play and where we can go and talk to teachers if we have any worries.”
Blessing the garden, Archbishop John Davies said it is a place where pupils can grow spiritually and have time for peace and reflection.
“I sense there’s a growing understanding of how important community is, and that goes for churches, councils, armed forces and other agencies which all contribute to the lives of the places in which we live,” he said.
“There’s a real depth of commitment to helping young people take advantage of every opportunity that they possible can to grow, not just physically but spiritually, and to make schools places where pupils can flourish in all sorts of different ways. This is a wonderful opportunity for that growth to take place, and a wonderful place for it to happen.
“It’s a real joy for me, on behalf of the Church, to be able to set this place apart not just for play but for peace.”
The work was completed by Oliver Wotherspoon of Cool Canvas in two phases this spring term. Both he and headteacher Lynsey are already planning their next project for developing the school’s inner courtyard.