Variety backers help fund ‘life-changing’ initiative for disabled children

From creating exciting new structures to jobs and wealth, Yorkshire’s corporate community is used to bringing about change.

Date: 4th March 2019. Picture James Hardisty. Springwater School, Harrogate. Pictured Vaughan Parry, Site Manager of Springwater School, keeping watch on the work to rebuild part of the school after help from Yorkshire Business Awards.

However, at one school in Harrogate, some of its key players are changing the lives of dozens of some of the region’s most profoundly disabled children.

Leading companies from the region’s commercial property community have come together to support and facilitate Variety Yorkshire’s latest project, The Big Build, transforming Springwater School in Harrogate.

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The special needs school based in Harrogate looks after children aged between the ages of two to 19 years, all of whom have a wide range of complex, life limiting and life-threatening conditions. 

Yorkshire property awards organised by Variety at Rudding park hotel

In January 2017, Charlotte Farrington, Yorkshire regional development director for Variety, visited the school to learn of its restrictive site, limited outside space and acute lack of resource.

The main areas of concern for the school were the lack of shelter in the playground, the lack of storage and the need for a sensory room and trampoline area (used for rebound therapy).

The effect this had, along with the school’s limited funds, on the environment and equipment the school was unable to offer pupils led the charity to launch The Variety Big Build at its annual Yorkshire Property Awards held at Rudding Park Hotel in May, to address the urgent needs of Springwater.

And the response was phenomenal, with a raft of firms lending financial or physical resources to the project.

Date: 4th March 2019. Picture James Hardisty. Springwater School, Harrogate. Pictured Vaughan Parry, Site Manager of Springwater School, keeping watch on the work to rebuild part of the school after help from Yorkshire Business Awards.

Phase one of this project, to create a state-of-the-art sensory room and soft play area, was completed in April 2018, thanks to the support and donations of companies such as The HACS Group and JPG near Harrogate.

Endless LLP made a very generous pledge at the Yorkshire Business Awards 2016 which paid for the sensory equipment while The Caddick Group also responded with a substantial donation, which has been allocated to the building of the playground.

Phases two and three to create an all-inclusive playground and a purpose-built rebound therapy facility, costed at just short of £1m, are now being undertaken.

Stonebridge Homes completed the site strip before Christmas and GMI, in partnership with Kier Property, are now well underway bringing to life Re-form Landscape Architecture’s design, under the project management of Gent Visick.

Date:7th December 2018. Sir John Major guest speaker at the Yorkshire Business Awards, in aide of children's charity Variety, held at the Queens Hotel, Leeds. Pictured Nina Hossain, British journalist and presenter on ITN, and Sir John Major meeting pupils from Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Junior School, in Wakefield, before the event.

Ms Farrington said: “After meeting Springwater 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 generations to come – this is our sponsors’ legacy and they should be so proud.”

Sarah Edwards said: “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 firms behind The Big Build will be thanked personally at this year’s property awards.

Tom Gilman, managing director of Kier Property (North), Garry Wilson, managing partner at Endless, Gavin Ritchie, director of Gent Visick, and Paul Caddick, of Caddick Group, all issued statements expressing their pride and passion in the project.

The work being done:

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.

Each pupil at Springwater will often have several pieces of specialist equipment and at present, there are no designated storage facilities meaning the school have had to close off areas such as the library. This is to be addressed in The Big Build.

The outside playground is a basic tarmacadam area, posing dangers to the children. Again this will be substantially reconstructed under The Big Build program