A bare concrete area at Mill Water School has been transformed into an exciting activity area, thanks to a fundraising campaign that brought in £60,000.

A combination of community fundraisers and grant donations paid for new fixtures and equipment designed to meet the physical, social, curriculum and wellbeing needs of the 120 pupils, who have severe and complex learning disabilities.

The new facilities have been installed in phases. First came a wheel-chair swing, a bespoke cycle track and a new Early Years playground with a climbing tower, trim-trails and water features. Most recently a bare quadrant space was transformed into an outdoor exercise area with a sunken trampoline and static physio equipment. Permanent canopy structures have also been installed, providing shade and protection from the elements.

Headteacher Sarah Pickering said: “The children absolutely love the new facilities. The difference has been incredible. Our pupils have a very broad spectrum of abilities and needs. This major project has ensured that we cater for everyone. It includes soft rubber-crumb floorings and artificial grass, as well as a cycle track and gym equipment for our more physically able pupils. It has also greatly enhanced the provision of the clubs that we run during the school holidays. We are extremely grateful for the phenomenal support that the school has received.”

Where the money came from

Significant funding came from the children’s rugby charity, Wooden Spoon, which donated £11,000 towards a new wooden tower and play zone within the Early Years playground. Unveiling a ‘Wooden Spoon Play Area’ plaque, its chair Roger Haywood said: “We are delighted to support such a worthy school. Seeing the children enjoying the new play area is wonderful.”

Liz Low of the Norman Family Charitable Trust also visited to see the revamp. The Trust donated £10,000 to the Early Years project and a further £5,000 to the outdoor gym equipment.

Further donations of £10,000 were made by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Devon County Council’s Small Grants Scheme, along with £12,000 from the Bailey Thomas Charitable Trust and £2,000 from the Gibbons Family Charitable Trust.

Pupils’ families and the local community also played their part. There was a £1,500 donation from the business Naked Wine, where a parent works, and £600 was raised from a quiz night at The Sir Walter Raleigh pub.

Mill Water School is always looking to forge links with its local community and to create inclusive practical opportunities for its pupils to gain experiences that help prepare them for their ‘best’ futures. It is also a significant local employer.

To learn more about Mill Water, or find out about opportunities to work at the school, visit www.millwater.devon.sch.uk or email info@millwater.devon.sch.uk