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Ipswich businessman Guy Nicholls gives huge £100,000 donation for specialist school playground

PUBLISHED: 19:00 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:57 24 December 2019

Guy Nicholls has made a donation of £100,000 to the Thomas Wolsey School to help build the playground they have always dreamed of   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Guy Nicholls has made a donation of £100,000 to the Thomas Wolsey School to help build the playground they have always dreamed of Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Christmas has come early for an Ipswich school after a local businessman made a huge £100,000 donation to help build a new specialist playground.

Gina Long MBE, Guy Nicholls and Principal of the Thomas Wolsey Helen MacDougall Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGina Long MBE, Guy Nicholls and Principal of the Thomas Wolsey Helen MacDougall Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Guy Nicholls, who owns Kesgrave based plant hire company TRU7 Group, visited the Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy along with Gina Long MBE, founder of GeeWizz Charity to break the news of his donation to students, teachers and parents.

It was an emotional moment, and thrilled headteacher Helen MacDougall said: "Something that seemed like a dream and a million miles away for so long is now in sight."

The school works with pupils aged between three and 16 with additional physical, medical and sensory needs and associated learning difficulties.

Mrs Long has been backing its attempts to get a new playground, and took an idea for a major fundraiser to the organisers of the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk Exhibition.

Crystal Barber, Maria Alvarez and Olivia Alverez-Pilcher,  L-R Gina Long MBE, Jade Perry, Guy Nicholls, Ellie Piercy,Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCrystal Barber, Maria Alvarez and Olivia Alverez-Pilcher, L-R Gina Long MBE, Jade Perry, Guy Nicholls, Ellie Piercy,Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The idea was to create a long-term legacy from the exhibition, which has been open to the public at Christchurch Mansion since the summer of 2019 and closes on May 2, 2020.

She contacted Mr Nicholls, a supporter of GeeWizz for many years, in the hope of securing sponsorship from him and his company for the fundraiser - details of which will be announced next month.

However, he was so inspired by the school that he immediately stepped in with an extraordinary £100,000 pledge to kick start the project.

Mr Nicholls said: "I'm an Ipswich person, we earn our money in Ipswich and so we wanted to give it back a bit because these people here do an amazing job for these kids.

Guy Nicholls and Gina Long MBE with Sam and Euan Morley   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGuy Nicholls and Gina Long MBE with Sam and Euan Morley Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"What caught my attention about this project was that it is with children. This is just a start, we will do more to help.

"Every child should at least be given the opportunity to experience different things outside."

Mrs Long said: "For Guy to so generously pledge the huge amount of £100,000, along with giving his expertise and other services is simply so overwhelming."

The new playground will allow the students to access not only a safe, engaging outside space at playtime, but also a sensory and stimulating outdoor learning environment.

Back L-R Gina Long MBE, Jade Perry, Guy Nicholls, Ellie Piercy,
Front L-R Crystal Barber, Zoe Hall and Jenny Collins  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBack L-R Gina Long MBE, Jade Perry, Guy Nicholls, Ellie Piercy, Front L-R Crystal Barber, Zoe Hall and Jenny Collins Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The redevelopment is set to cost around £250,000 to £300,000 and will be funded with 50% of the proceeds from the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk Exhibition legacy fundraiser, taking place next year.

The remaining proceeds from this event and fundraiser will fund rooms within St Elizabeth Hospice, that will be specifically designed for teenagers and young adults affected by cancer that the Zest Hospice supports.


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