PUPILS from a Darlington school spent a morning renovating and redesigning the grounds of sheltered accommodation for elderly people.

Youngsters from Longfield Academy visited Ted Fletcher Court, in Haughton-on-Skerne, to restore residents’ outdoor furniture, and design some new pieces for the gardens, as part of the school’s community enrichment programme.

The Year 7 and 8 pupils created three-dimensional designs for benches, pergolas, wildflower areas, gazebos, and chicken coops from modelling card, duct tape, and foamboard. Some of their ideas and designs will be now be built for real by Equal Arts, a creative charity which supports older people.

Neil Canavan, from Equal Arts, worked with the pupils on their designs. He said: “It’s important that young people get the chance to experience a different setting, especially doing something where they get a hands-on experience, and get to see their ideas become reality.”

They also sanded and repainted benches and outdoor furniture, which residents will be able to enjoy next summer.

Sam Mason, Head of PE, who led the visit, said: “We’re doing several of these visits, which are all about raising the pupils’ aspirations, and getting them working together out in the local community.

“The pupils decided they wanted to visit and help a residential home, and they’ve surprised us with how eager they’ve been to engage with everything. They’ve been doing some really good work.”

Pupils also spent time speaking with residents, and meeting the neighbourhood chickens.

Karen Gilbey, Scheme Manager at Ted Fletcher Court, said: “It’s wonderful to have the children here meeting our residents, and working to produce bespoke designs for our garden.

“We’re very grateful to them and to the school, and we look forward to seeing their creations come to life.”

Following their hard work at Ted Fletcher Court, staff felt the pupils had earned a trip to see Jack & the Beanstalk at Darlington Hippodrome.

The pupils will also be organising a coffee morning and operating a junior kitchen at sheltered accommodations across Darlington as part of their community enrichment programme.

Ceiron Pearson, in Year 8, said: “It’s been really good to come here, because we’re out helping our community, and we’re giving something back to people.”