MILITARY top brass was on hand to perform the honours as a Darlington school paraded its new outdoor area.

Catterick Garrison commander Colonel Stephen Padgett cut the official ribbon before inspecting the new sensory garden, outdoor play area, bandstand and trim track at West Park Academy, financed in part by an MoD grant.

Later the same day the school’s finance director, Sarah Roberts, travelled to Number 10 for a reception held by the Prime Minister David Cameron to celebrate the work being done to support the Armed Forces Community.

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West Park Academy secured almost £40,000 and raised another £10,000 to transform its school grounds into a place of play and reflection for the community.

An adventure playground, a sensory garden for reflection, an outdoor learning space providing shelter and a storage container for local groups was included in the scheme after a successful bid to the Ministry of Defence’s Community Covenant Grant.

The new facilities will become the centre of a host of community activities in an area of Darlington that is home to a number of service families.

At an opening celebration Col Padgett said: “This is a great example of a community’s tenacity because securing the grant and raising extra funds yourself is not an easy task. It has been a brilliant effort for which the MoD commends you.”

Thirsk-based specialists Image Playgrounds were commissioned to carry out the project and the storage container has been decorated with designs by the academy’s art club.