A forest school in Dane Valley can run in all weathers thanks to a brilliant donation

Families enjoyed a fun day at the site with the help of the new shelter

Sessions at the Thanet Community Forest School in Dane Valley can now take place all year around thanks to a gift from a Margate scaffold firm.

All Access Scaffold has donated a shelter to the site in Dane Valley Woods to go over the fire pit to keep the Forest School participants dry in the winter and shady in the summer.

The school, created by St Anthony’s teacher Luke Evans and due to open in January, aims to teach youngsters about the natural environment.

It is based on a former landfill area which has been turned  into a young woodland with nearly 6000 trees planted in the last decade.

TCFS will use the 13 acre site as its outdoor class to teach children about sustainability, ecology, conservation and the environment within a forest school teaching ethos.

The shelter was put in place last week and used yesterday (December 16) during a festive fun day where families planted trees, made Christmas decorations and tucked into festive foods.

Mr Evans said, “Our Forest School aims to provide free places to children from the local area and this simply wouldn’t be possible without the help of generous people and companies like All Access Scaffold because for us to construct our own shelter would have been very expensive.”

All Access were prompted to make the donation after reading on The Isle of Thanet News about a vandalism attack at the site in July.

Yobs destroyed one of the buildings that had been created by Luke and pupils from St Anthony’s school.

Daniel Garthorpe, from All Access Scaffold, said: “At All Access Scaffolding we saw that Thanet Community Forest School had its previous area vandalised back in July and felt that their new site needed something secure for the children to be able to use.

“We decided to help build a shelter for their fire pit. We always try to help local community projects as much as we can as we think it is important and this was one we hope can now flourish to develop the children’s minds in a new fantastic learning experience.”

The Forest School has also had financial support from the Tesco store in Cliftonville where customers voted for them in the ‘Bags For Help’ scheme.

The shelter adds a whole new dimension to TCFS’s Forest School experience as sessions can now happen throughout all the seasons.

Mr Evans said, “We have plans to plant grape vines around the base of the shelter so eventually they will grow over it and make it a really good feature of our site.”

Thanet Community Forest School is a registered charity set up to provide free places to children from deprived backgrounds, The aim is to try to close the attainment gap between children from working class families and those from middle class families.

The Forest School project also aims to provide opportunities for adults with learning difficulties in horticulture, forestry, land management and wood craft.

Mr Evans said everyone at the Forest School was grateful for the shelter donation. He added: “We have had some big setbacks, like the vandalism, on this journey to provide children with free Forest School places but our resilience has paid off.

“Thanet District Council has been supportive of us, our local and county Cllrs have helped and Sir Roger Gale has backed us from the very start.

“Once our new staff start work in January this project will really take off and the site will be transformed in to a beautiful woodland for our local schools to access. 2018 promises to be a big year for Thanet Community Forest School and everybody in our community should benefit from it.”