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Tonteg schools unveils new woodland forest garden for pupils

A 3-19 maintained special school in Tonteg has unveiled a new woodland forest garden that will surround the pupils with the sights and sounds of nature, following a donation of £23,500 from the Aviva Broker Community Fund.

The school, which accommodates children with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties, was awarded the funding for the project after being nominated by the Llantrisant branch of insurance broker and risk management specialist Gallagher.

Teachers at Ysgol Ty Coch with representatives from Gallagher and Aviva

Ysgol Ty Coch’s brand new woodland area was officially unveiled at a launch event on Thursday 17 October attended by special guests including Pontypridd MP, Mick Antoniw, Mayor of Rhonnda Cynon Taf, Linda De Vet and Paralympian, Sara Head.

Designed as a stimulating outdoor learning space, the woodland forest learning space features wheelchair-accessible classrooms, as well as a mud kitchen, a fire pit and climbing apparatus.

The launch of the woodland area follows the installation of a new wheelchair-accessible play area in May 2019, following a £25,000 donation from Gallagher as part of the company’s Making a Difference charity awards programme.

David Jenkins, Headteacher at Ysgol Ty Coch, said: “There’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that outdoor learning can make for healthier and happier students – so we’re delighted to have been given the opportunity to enhance our outdoor area this year by the Aviva Broker Community Fund and Gallagher.

“We want the woodland to feel like a fairy tale setting for our pupils – a place where they can embrace nature and learn in calm surroundings. That’s why we’ve involved them in the process, from planning the area to researching and choosing equipment which will provide new experiences and enable them to learn new life skills.”

Mike Jones, Regional Managing Director at Gallagher, said: “At Gallagher, we’re committed to supporting the communities in which we serve – so we’re delighted to have been involved in the Aviva Broker Community Fund this year, and see the positive changes that are being made to local initiatives as a result.

“We’re impressed by the commitment that the school have displayed to providing a caring and stimulating learning environment – and are extremely proud to have had the opportunity to play a part in supporting them on this fantastic project.”

Phil Bayles, Chief Distribution Officer from Aviva, added: “We are only here because of the communities that we exist within – the communities where we have customers – so we’re delighted to see the playground project at Ysgol Ty Coch completed and being used by the children. This epitomises what the Aviva Broker Community Fund is about, working with brokers in their communities to make a real difference to people. Congratulations to all involved and I look forward to more projects like this applying to the Aviva Broker Community Fund when it reopens in 2020.”

Friends of Ty Coch was established in September 2015 to raise money to support the work of the school.

Throughout 2019, over £258,000 has been awarded to broker-supported projects through the Aviva Broker Community Fund, which aims to celebrate and support small charities across the UK, providing skills, funding, resources and time to enable innovative and impactful organisations to address a range of social challenges and build stronger communities. Aviva invited 130 brokers to put forward a cause or project for the chance to receive the funding.