BARCLAYCARD staff swapped their desks for tools to help spruce up the playground of a special school in Darlington.

Employees from the bank’s Stockton branch responded to a plea from Beaumont Hill Academy for help improving their worn playground.

The school was awarded a grant from Barclaycard’s community fund and ten staff gave up their time to carry out tasks such as erecting new willow fencing and varnishing outdoor furniture in the play area.

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Barclays data analyst Ian Thomas said that they were delighted to be helping out.

He added: “We are over the moon to be out of the office!

“It is about everyone getting stuck in, we don’t have any particular skills but we are enthusiastic amateurs and it’s a nice change from the usual sitting behind a computer tapping away.”

Mr Thomas and his colleagues have previously helped spruce up the grounds of a hospice in Stockton and a school in Middlesbrough.

Jill Scott, health and safety manager at the Education Village which houses Beaumont Hill, said the finished playground would help bring about a “tremendous start” to the new term in September.

It will be used by some of the most vulnerable children in the school with a range of learning disabilities.