Makers Construction extended an invitation for pupils of the Hampden Gurney Church of England Primary School to visit a very special project that Makers are undertaking.
Tucked away in Central London is the oasis of ‘The Watergardens’ only a stone’s throw away from the school. The school provides a education for 3 to 11 year olds and hosts 240 children. This exceptionally high performing school is in high demand and the school prides itself on its Christian values encompassing the elements of work and faith, the foundation stones of the school.
Founded back in 1863 by the Reverend John Hampden Gurney, this school has seen many changes over its 157 year history, from the age of children it teaches, to its relocation from its origins at Hampden Gurney Street, to its relatively new home at Nutford Place.
Housed in an award winning building this proactive school makes very clever use of its 6 level ‘beehive’ appearance including a rooftop garden providing a critical ‘green space’ within a sprawling urban environment.
The school has an enviable academic reputation and this is reinforced by the schools passion to provide varied and stimulated learning opportunities for their pupils. When Makers approached them about the Watergardens project they were more than willing to take part.
The Watergardens was created in 1964 and provides a tranquil space for the residents to relax and enjoy a bio diverse environment through a community garden and pools in an urbanised landscape.
The gardens consist of many concrete planters, raised terraces and large interconnecting pools that house a number of wildlife species. In order for Makers to repair and waterproof these elements the current inhabitants have had to be relocated which meant several hundred fish being captured, inspected as well as the prevention of any nesting birds to allow works to proceed.
The children of Hampden Gurney were invited along with teachers and parents to witness the fish being caught, inspected and placed in holding tanks and to meet ‘Buddy’ the star of the show.
“The kids were amazing and were totally thrilled at watching the fish being caught and placed in the holding tanks. We set up a holding tank on the viewing platform so they could get up close to some of these fish but ‘Buddy’ was the real star attraction.”
Willy McCrimmon, Regional Construction Manager, Makers
Buddy is a 2 year old male Harris Hawk. Although a native of South America, he was bred in captivity in the UK. Buddy belongs to his handler Oliver who has trained Buddy to create a hunting territory to discharge and prevent birds from nesting in the trees at The Watergardens to allow works to proceed. Buddy has provided a vital role and was a firm favourite with the children. Buddy was incredibly relaxed on the day and totally un-phased by the presence of so many children who took the opportunity to interact with him.
“My favourite thing was the hawk, I enjoyed stroking him and it was so soft,” James
“Given the amount of children that were able to stroke Buddy I was amazed how gentle he was, the only person he bit was Willy! And that was very funny.”
The children were given their own viz vests depicting the school and Makers campaign of ‘Be Safe Be Seen’ which they all wore with pride. Being in an urban environment it is critical in these heavily built up areas the children are clearly visible when going to and from school.
During their visit they witnessed the removal of over 500 fish in various sizes and species which will be taken away and housed off site until their return when the construction work is completed in 2018.
Children were introduced to ‘Buddy’ via Oliver of Merlin Environmental who explained what Buddy’s role had been with the project and the team from Aquajoy led by Ian Owen explained how they caught the fish, what they ate and what would happen to them during their time away from The Watergardens whilst it’s being repaired.
“We are especially grateful to our experts who entertained and educated not only the children but the parents, teachers and my staff too. Many thanks for your contribution to very successful day!”
Simon Lamb, Managing Director, Makers
“What a wonderful treat it was for our little urban school children to get an opportunity to see a bit of conservation in action. My son particularly enjoyed meeting the Harris Hawk and was fascinated to hear what an important job he had played in scaring the other birds away so they didn’t eat the fish.”
The visit by 2 of the classes from Hampden Gurney has been a complete success with everyone enjoying the day and learning about conservation and ecology. We have been particularly impressed with the enthusiasm and knowledge of the children and are delighted that we have been able to play a part in their structured learning. We would like to extend our thanks to the headmistress Mrs. Evelyn Chua for permitting the visit and Gerry Fallon for her co-ordination and communication that made it possible.
Willy McCrimmon, Regional Construction Manager, Makers
“The feedback from the children has been awesome and they were exited throughout the whole day. I would like to thank Willy and his team for their efforts on the day and I have forwarded a few comments from the children.”
Robbie Middleton, Teacher, Hampden Gurney COE
“I liked the animals and the hawk,” Philip
“I liked the big fish,” Estelle
“I liked the little fish because they splashed when they were put in the big pool,” Alexis
The children who visited the Watergardens site were invited to enter into a colouring competition following their site visit. We wish them well with their individual projects and look forward to seeing their memories of the day in the near future.