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Bishop Graham opens school  ‘Good Shepherd’ garden

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, opened the new Good Shepherd Garden at Dereham Church of England Junior Academy, part of Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust (DNEAT) on Monday 18 March.

Over the past 18 months, the school’s team have worked hard to landscape the beautiful area. The school was fortunate to access some plants and materials at reduced costs and sometimes even for free. 

Bishop Graham said: “It was a joy to be involved with opening the new Good Shepherd’s Garden. It is a great space, lovingly created by adults and pupils, as well as the generosity of local funders. I hope it will be a place where pupils can sit in green pastures by quiet waters, or walk the different paths, and know that goodness and love are Jesus’ gift to them.”

Mrs Kelly Scott, Headteacher of Dereham Church of England Junior Academy said: “Some of our dedicated staff wanted to take an unused and uncared for part of the school and make it into a lovely reflection area for children to learn and sit during the school day.  We soon realised it was going to take a lot to realise this vision, including lots of funding! We were fortunate to be able to access funding from St Nicholas Church to help make this vision a reality. They were able to provide funds to have the area cleared and have paths, fencing, edging and seating areas installed, leaving funds for some of the plants we required. Then our team of staff (which included an academic mentor with a background in horticulture) set about designing the garden area.”

Oliver Burwood, CEO of DNEAT said: “This is a fantastic example of a church school working in collaboration with its local church to produce a fantastic outcome for children. The garden is stunning, and I know it will benefit everyone who has the opportunity to use it. I’d like to thank school staff and volunteers for the significant extra effort and time they gave, in order to turn the dream into reality.”

The Revd Canon Paul Cubitt of St Nicholas Church, Dereham, who helped deliver the funding for the garden said: “The churchwardens and Rector are delighted to see the completion of the Good Shepherd Garden.  We hope all who explore it will find peace, rest and beauty there.”

Mrs Scott added: “We are looking forward to our children having somewhere peaceful to spend their time, away from the busy areas of the school where they will be able to enjoy looking for wildlife, smelling the array of flowers and enjoying the water feature at the centre of the area. We couldn’t have achieved any of this without the support from Revd Paul and St Nicholas Church, David Yates (Academic Mentor), Dawn Reardon (School Business Manager), Katy McKay (Teacher and RE Lead), Chris and Sharon Swift (Caretaker and Cleaner) Christina Bodiam (Teacher) Josh Bodiam (Son of Teacher) and Sophie Eves (College of West Anglia Student) who have given their own time to brining this area to life.”

Miss Dawn Reardon, School Business Manager said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing it become established over time and I will take great pleasure from seeing local wildlife and insects appreciating a new habitat.”

Miss Katy McKay, Teacher and RE Lead said: “After being inspired by the Psalm 23 Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, I am so pleased that our vision has come to life, offering Staff and children a tranquil place for reflection.”

Bishop Graham - Opening the Garden with the help from monitors William, Jacob, Amani and Heath.