Today marked the official re-opening of Springwater Special Educational Needs School in Harrogate following its transformation from an under-resourced facility into a state-of-the-art environment. This is all thanks to the support of leading companies from Yorkshire’s commercial property community.
TV presenter Gethin Jones officiated at the launch event, which was attended by Harrogate MP Andrew Jones, Harrogate Mayor Councillor Stuart Martin MBE and guests from across the region’s property community.
Springwater caters for a number of Yorkshire's most profoundly disabled children between the ages of 2 – 19, all of whom have a wide range of complex, life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.
In January 2017, Charlotte Farrington, Yorkshire Regional Development Director for Variety, visited the school and learned how restrictive the site was, with limited outside space and an acute lack of resources. The main areas of concern were the absence of shelter in the playground, the lack of storage and the need for a sensory room and trampoline area (which are used for rebound therapy). This led Charlotte to launch The Variety Big Build at the charity's annual Yorkshire Property Awards, held at Rudding Park Hotel in May, with a view to addressing the urgent needs of Springwater.
An appeal was made to the property community to get involved in a three-phase project: a state-of-the-art sensory and soft play area, an all-inclusive, accessible playground playground and a purpose-built rebound therapy centre. This resulted in a host of construction companies and professional services pledging their support, including Kier Group, Sir Robert McAlpine, The HACS Group, Stonebridge Homes, GMI Construction, Barratt Homes, Re-form Landscape Architecture, Gent Visick, Edward Architecture, Quod, ASK Building Control, Gardiner & Theobald and JPG.
Charlotte said: “After meeting Springwater School Head, Sarah Edwards and her fantastic staff, it was clear how passionate they are about the school, its pupils and the level of care given to each and every child. I knew this required something bigger than we have ever done before, and I cannot thank the generosity of the Yorkshire property community enough. This project will be life changing, not only for the children at Springwater now, but for years to come. Everyone who has pledged their time and contributed financially should be incredibly proud of what has been achieved and the legacy they have created.”
Tom Gilman, managing director of Kier Property (North) commented: “We are delighted to be supporting The Variety Big Build, a fantastic campaign that will allow Springwater School to provide new and improved facilities. We worked closely with our construction colleagues to help coordinate the design and bring together the various specialists within the property and construction community. Once the site preparation works were complete, we engaged with GMI Construction, who is also our contractor for our retail scheme in Durham, to undertake hard landscaping and playground surfacing works. The school will now work with additional partners to deliver the structures and play equipment and leave a lasting legacy for its pupils to enjoy for years to come.”
Gavin Ritchie, Director of Gent Visick noted: “It was clear from our first site visit that the work was desperately needed, and we take great pleasure in helping Variety and Springwater School manage this complex project. The works are transforming the outside environment into exciting and functional space, something the children at the Springwater will enjoy for many years to come.”
Garry Wilson, Managing Partner at Endless LLP commented: “Endless LLP are huge supporters of the important work undertaken by Variety for under privileged and disabled children in our region. When we were informed about The Big Build project and the work required at Springwater it was important for us to offer our assistance and by providing funding for the sensory room and soft play area we have been able to contribute to the long-term well-being and development of all the pupils and wish them all the very best.”
Paul Caddick, Chairman of The Caddick Group said: “Supporting those in our community who need help is an important part of who we are and what we do. The Big Build at Springwater School will change and enhance the quality of lives for hundreds of children both now and in the future and it’s our pleasure that we can lend support.”
Sarah Edwards, Head Teacher at Springwater summed up what this project means for the school: "We look forward to the completion of the playground works as it will allow us to offer the very best provision to all of our children, however complex their special needs. The work started with our school council, who were considerate of what everyone needed outside - they want active areas, accessible areas, chill-out areas and sensory areas - and I know that this will be achieved once the work is complete."