A COMMUNITY proved it was in a class of its own, stepping into the breach when a school found it lacked the cash to translate drawing board plans into reality.

Parents, grandparents, friends, teachers and children reported for work at the weekend at Preston Primary School, near Stockton, with spades and wheelbarrows to extend the nursery play area and incorporate a hard-surfaced area for cycling proficiency courses, saving the school £3,000 to £4,000.

Parents also donated a mechanical digger and building materials.

Civil engineer Nick Anscomb, a father of two pupils, acted as director of works, and his long-standing business colleague, Gerry McVeigh, of GMac Grab Hire, supplied equipment.

While workers shovelled soil, barrowed turf, and moved iron railings, others served scones, bacon butties and soup to keep up their strength.

Headmistress Shirley Winters said: "We wanted to develop an outdoor learning environment. We had very big plans. We got a £4,900 lottery grant, but when it came to it, we found it did not buy much. Luckily, some of the parents were able to help us out.

"The response has been absolutely fantastic. I think it is the community spirit that exists here and the fact we are a very old school. We are coming up to 100 years old."

Mr Anscomb said: "It's really tremendous and it is going to be so great for the children.

"People are coming up to me all the time and saying 'what can we do now?'."