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Friendship trumphs over vandals

PUBLISHED: 13:00 14 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:20 03 March 2010

FRIENDSHIP won through at an Ipswich school despite the efforts of vandals who threatened to wreck the opening of its new garden.

Students from Otley College had spent months transforming an overgrown piece of land in the middle of Orwell Junior School into a Friendship Garden complete with pond, vegetable patch, flowers, colourful benches and bird boxes.

FRIENDSHIP won through at an Ipswich school despite the efforts of vandals who threatened to wreck the opening of its new garden.

Students from Otley College had spent months transforming an overgrown piece of land in the middle of Orwell Junior School into a Friendship Garden complete with pond, vegetable patch, flowers, colourful benches and bird boxes.

However, yesterday morning, when 12 special needs students from the agricultural college arrived to complete their work in time for the official unveiling, they were upset to see vandals had broken in to the school and tried to destroy the garden.

The heads of many of the flowers had been knocked off and the new willow arch damaged before the vandals had smashed windows to get in to the school building and steal a video camera and digital equipment.

Despite being upset by the break-in, the students spent two and a half hours working hard to ensure the garden was ready for opening.

Fran Bostock, the student's teacher at Otley College, said: "The students couldn't believe it. We had to settle them down quite a lot.

"It was an incredible job to finish but it's brilliant for the students to see the finished garden. They've left something for the children here to enjoy and it's been a great boost for them."

Dave Nicholls, science leader at Orwell Junior School and head of area special needs, said: "We were mortified when we saw they'd trashed this place. There was some sobbing but what's brilliant is they

didn't just sob, they got down to it and repaired it.

"The amount of work to do something like this is incredible. When you talk about

community this is what it is. They've given us another classroom and another resource."

The idea for the Friendship Garden came about after Mr Nicholls took a group of

students to Otley College and saw the sunflower garden they had created there.

He said: "We were very impressed with it so I asked Otley if they would let their basic skills students come down here to make over this area, which was a tip."

Work on the garden began in September with the clearing out of the overgrown area and every Friday since then, the students from the college, which they called the Groundforce Team, have travelled to the school in Robeck Road to transform it into a colourful, resourceful area.

Mrs Bostock said: "It's been very useful for our students. They've learned to work as individuals and as part of a team. They've learned new skills and it's been like off site work experience.

The garden will now help children at Orwell Junior School with all aspects of learning.

Mr Nicholls said: "This garden is brilliant when you think about what it can do. When you're teaching from a book it's very hard if you can't read very well. It's easy to see they'll prefer practical learning like this."

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