SGN volunteers clear the way for primary school’s furry friends
13 February 2017
The SGN team taking a break from their work at St Stephen’s.
Pupils at a Surrey primary school are eagerly anticipating the arrival of some furry (and feathered) friends this term, after employees from gas distribution company SGN cleared part of the school’s grounds to make way for their new homes.
St Stephen’s is a small Church of England primary school in South Godstone that also includes a specially-resourced centre catering for visually-impaired pupils. Later this term it will become home to some baby chicks and rabbits that, with the help of teaching staff, will be looked after by the pupils.
In preparation for the animals’ arrival, a team of nine volunteers, all from SGN’s Surrey Maintenance team, spent the day clearing dead trees, brambles and wild rose bushes from a courtyard in the centre of the school, making the area safe for the children and making room for new hutches and a chicken coop.
The work was arranged by Maintenance Team Manager Steve Cole from SGN’s Surrey depot in Epsom, whose daughter Sarah works at the school as a teaching assistant. He said: “She told me about their plans to bring the animals in, but said the area they had set aside for them was very overgrown and needed quite a bit of work to get it ready.
“SGN runs a scheme in which every employee gets one day each year on company time to help out in their local community. Helping clear the area ready for the animals seemed like an ideal use of our time.
“We had a great day,” added Steve. “All the lads really got something out of it and the children and teachers were over the moon with what we’d done.”
Amanda Blackburn, Headteacher of St Stephen’s, said: “Caring for animals is a great way to introduce children to the idea of taking responsibility, and research has shown that it has calming effects on children with behavioural or emotional vulnerabilities.
“Our Reception class will take delivery of an incubator full of chickens’ eggs next month, and the children will be able to watch them hatch and grow into baby chicks. Once old enough they will be transferred to the outdoor area, to be joined later in the term by two rabbits.
“We were extremely grateful to Steve and his colleagues, who braved freezing temperatures to tackle our outdoor space and get it ready for the chickens and rabbits when they join us later this term.”