A HOUSING association has helped a school add a touch of countryside magic to its grounds.
Over the past few years Ysgol Llandrillo Yn Rhos has spent around £50,000 on a special project aimed at putting it at the heart of its local community.
The main feature of the programme was the building of a chalet-style wooden resource centre, known as The Hub, which provides the venue for a range of school and community events.
Also in the grounds is a sensory garden and a children’s play area.
The school lies in the middle of Rhos on Sea where Cartrefi Conwy has hundreds of homes.
The housing association has now chipped in with a £4,000 contribution to provide a host of extra features to give the whole scheme an authentic countryside feel.
These include rural-style picnic tables and chairs, benches and planters throughout the grounds of both the infant and junior schools.
The big cash boost for Ysgol Llandrillo Yn Rhos comes from Cartrefi Conwy’s Enviro SOS fund.
Clare Phipps, Cartrefi Conwy Community Involvement Co-ordinator, explained: “This fund allows us to assist with environmental improvement projects in local neighbourhood which directly benefit our tenants and their children.
“In the latest round of Enviro SOS, 20 projects, a quarter of which are schools, across Conwy county received financial assistance.
“Ysgol Llandrillo yn Rhos was one of the schools as it’s right in the middle Rhos on Sea estate and 130 of the children who go there live in our properties.”
Using cash from its own funds and raised by its Friends of the School group, the school spent around £20,000 on building The Hub alone close to its infants department.
Since it opened a year ago it has been used by the school itself for special sessions involving the children as well as their parents, such as preparing youngsters for making the transition from primary to high school and starting at nursery school.
There have also been community based activities, including drop-in sessions for the housing association, talks by local organisations and coffee mornings.
The £4,000 cash injection from Cartrefi Conwy has been used to install a child-sized table and chairs right outside The Hub and, close by, a set of wooden planters containing a variety of sweet-smelling herbs.
There are more planters around the children’s fenced-off play area, which also now includes rows of benches where parents can relax while watching their youngsters playing on the slide and other equipment.
Further features the Cartrefi Conwy money paid for are sets of wooden picnic tables and chairs at the front of the infant school and on the grassed field which leads across to the primary school, where there are more benches set around the playground area.
The donation also covered the cost of bird tables in the school’s own sensory garden and the installation of wi-fi inside The Hub.
Ysgol Llandrillo yn Rhos headteacher Sharon Davies said: “The work we’ve done with The Hub and other new features are all about breaking down the barriers between the school and the world outside.
“We want our school to be right at the heart of the community and for people who live in the area to come in and use the facilities we’ve provided.
“We had spent £20,000 just on building The Hub and we certainly couldn’t have afforded all these extra touches that the donation from Cartrefi Conwy has paid for.
“The money has certainly helped tremendously and we’re very grateful for it. The benches, planters and other equipment really enhance the whole of our grounds.
“The picnic areas are getting plenty of use and we’re seeing groups of parents coming in to sit on them and chat after picking up their children from nursery in the mornings and school in the afternoons.
“We have 470 children at the two schools and about 130 of them are Cartrefi Conwy residents, so it’s great that the housing association is doing something to benefit them and the whole community.”
Kathryn Williams, Ysgol Llandrillo yn Rhos’s parental liaison officer, said: “A lot of work had already been done to give the school a lovely community feel and the contribution from Cartrefi Conwy has paid for some marvellous finishing touches which we wouldn’t have been able to provide.
“Thanks to them we’ve added some fantastic additional features, such as the benches, planters and picnic sets, which are now benefitting people at the school and people from the surrounding community.
“The child-size table and chairs outside The Hub are proving very useful for all sorts of outdoor sessions with the younger children and the picnic areas at the front of the infant school being fenced off makes them a safe place for people to gather.”
Parents really appreciate the new countryside atmosphere too, according to Melanie Morris who has two children, 10-year-old Evan and Ewan, eight, at the school.
She said: “We’re all very grateful to Cartrefi Conwy for the donation, which has paid for all sorts of fantastic features.
“The tables and chairs are great places for children and parents to meet after school and to share information about what’s happening in the school.”
Clare Phipps added: “The Hub is at the centre of their environmental improvements and is a brilliant idea to engage with the community as it is being used by a number of local organisations.
“With all the other environmental features which have been put in the school have used the £4,000 from our Enviro SOS fund to very good effect and we are very pleased to have been able to help them in this way.”