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Builders and tradesmen across the country flocked to a state special school in Lichfield, Staffordshire to help create a sensory garden for its pupils after monies previously donated for the project were stolen.
This astonishing act of kindness was inspired by Mark Bennett, founder of Tamworth-based children’s charity Simon’s Heroes, who was moved by a post he read on Facebook about the theft.
Simon’s Heroes has teamed up with Band of Builders and On the Tools to build the sensory garden for the school, which caters for 110 pupils aged 2-11 years suffering from a number of learning difficulties and disabilities.
On the Tools is an online community for builders to connect with each other around the UK and has previously supported Simon’s Heroes with similar projects. Band of Builders is a movement set up by tradesmen to help colleagues within the construction trade in their hour of need.
Band of Builders hit national headlines after builders travelled from across the UK to carry out a DIY SOS-style renovation at the home of fellow tradesman Keith Ellick who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Keith was a dear friend of Addam Smith, founder of Band of Builders.
Addam organised the renovation of Keith’s house as well as a fundraising drive to buy it for him and his family. Today Addam continues to help tradesman in similar situations through Band of Builders.
Now in a similar outpouring of spirit, they were able to project manage the creation of a state-of-the-art sensory garden for the children at Rocklands which included a multitude of play and sensory equipment for them to enjoy.
Band of Builders founder Addam Smith said: “It’s an honour and a privilege to be helping a charity like Simon’s Heroes, especially for such a worthy cause. Band of Builders is all about doing something practical to help those in need, and this is exactly that. We can’t wait to get cracking.”
The mammoth project started on August 22 2017, with people from across the Midlands and further afield giving up their time for free to build the garden.
The work finished in September and there was an open day where the new garden was unveiled to the children who attend Rocklands.
The icing on the cake was support from musical legend Tony Christie, the man behind Is This The Way to Amarillo. Tony currently resides in Lichfield and he was able to visit the site to gee on the workers and meet pupils and parents at the open day. Rocklands is a cause close to his heart as one of his nieces was a pupil there.
Simon’s Heroes founder Mark Bennett said: “When I saw the story about someone stealing money people had donated for something that could help over 100 children, I just had to do something to help.”
“At first I just asked for Addam’s support in spreading the word so we could get some extra pairs of hands, but he offered to project manage the site and make sure the build runs smoothly.”
“This project just goes to show what can be achieved when people are willing to give up a little bit of time to help those less fortunate than themselves.”
All photos courtesy of Band of Builders.