Business community rallies to back school revamp

Making a real and tangible difference is at the heart of any business large and small.

250518 Sophia Dowding 8 a pupil at Springwater School, Starbeck near Knaresborough in the newly opened sensory room at the school with Elaine Owen Chair of Variety Yorkshire.

But a raft of companies from Yorkshire are in the process of delivering a change which will massively improve the lives of dozens of the most challenged children in our region.

Thanks to the support of Yorkshire’s business community, children’s charity Variety has been able to fund a programme of improvement works at Springwater special school in Harrogate.

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It serves pupils ranging in age from 2-19 years old that have a wide range of complex life limiting and life threatening conditions.

Some of the pupils staff and benefactors in the new sensory room at Springwater School, Starbeck near Knaresborough.

Providing invaluable assistance to these children and their families, the school was facing a number of challenges including a lack of shelter in the playground, poor storage and the need for a sensory room and trampoline area which is used for rebound therapy.

Variety first visited Springwater in January 2017 and met with the headteacher, Sarah Edwards.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “The school is a small building, based on a restrictive site so outside space is very limited and it was immediately apparent the effect that the school’s limited funds and space has on the environment and equipment they are able to offer their pupils.”

Accordingly Variety set its sights on addressing the urgent needs of Springwater Special School in Harrogate and launched a ‘Big Build’ project to do so.

The Crystal Event 2017 raised in excess of £52,000 which part-funded a state of the art sensory room, along with a generous donation from Endless LLP at the Variety Yorkshire Business Awards.

The existing sensory area was vastly under-equipped and included a standard bubble tube, light and some very basic toys.

Variety identified this as Phase 1 of the ‘Big Build’ project. Sensory rooms are vitally important to children because they can provide safe, quiet areas for relaxation which is particularly important for conditions such as Autism. The HACS Group has undertaken the construction work involved in creating this fit for purpose space which is now complete and being put to good use by the pupils at Springwater.

Following the Yorkshire Property Awards event at Rudding Park earlier this month - of which The Yorkshire Post is media partner - further vital funds have been raised to allow the school to embark on phases two and three of the programme.

Phase two will see the building of an external covered trampoline area to be used for rebound therapy. Rebound therapy is vital in providing therapeutic exercise and recreation to children with a wide range of special needs, aiding their physical development whilst providing them with a sense of joy and helping to alleviate some of their continual, physical pain.

Finally Phase three will target the school’s playground. At present, the playground is a basic tarmacadam area, with an unsuitable slide and climbing frame, no shelter, is dangerously sloped around the edges and provides no significant aid to the development and happiness of the schools’ pupils. It is Variety’s vision to create an all-inclusive, interactive and sensory stimulating playground for Springwater, to allow their able bodied pupils to play alongside those with disabilities which has been designed by a well-known landscaping company in Leeds called Re-form Landscape Architecture.

Vaughan Parry, facility manager at Springwater School, said: “The difference that this state of the art sensory facility will make to all of our pupils is impossible to put into words. We are so grateful to Variety and all the companies that have been involved, for their drive and enthusiasm.

“Our pupils now have a resource that they so desperately need, and indeed – one which they deserve.”

The work being under taken at Springwater is supported by the following companies:

Ask Building Control

Re-From Landscape Architecture

Stonebridge Homes

Addleshaw Goddard

Gent Visick

Moda Living

The HACS Group


Edward Architecture

Gardiner & Theobald


Grace Landscapes

Barratt Homes

Enjoy Design

Further funds are set to be raised at The Crystal Event on Saturday June 23 at Ripley Castle Lakeside, near Harrogate. Director of Variety Yorkshire, Charlotte Farrington said: “The Crystal Event provides the ideal opportunity to support phase three of this Big Build project and help Variety complete its vision for the school.”