Tidworth children on path to better health thanks to Aspire
Pupils at Clarendon Junior School in Tidworth are on the path to better health, following the official opening of a new outdoor exercise facility, built and funded by Aspire Defence.
The hardstanding pathway, which was opened by Claire Perry, MP for Devizes, at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday 6 October, stretches around the perimeter of the school’s playing field. It was constructed by Aspire Defence Capital Works subcontractor Knights Brown, with assistance from landscaping subcontractor Gavin Jones.
Described by the MP as “a fantastic initiative”, the new pathway will enable pupils of all ages to exercise in all weathers. By running or walking five laps of the pathway, the children will be able to complete the ‘Daily Mile’ challenge, a national initiative which aims to get classes outside and active for 15 minutes during the school day. The PE teacher has also set up a new running club and 20 children are now enrolled.
In addition, the school is equipped to respond more effectively to the recommendations set out in the government’s current Childhood Obesity Plan, which encourages schools to improve the fitness level and overall health of their pupils, by setting healthy habits and supporting positive diet and exercise choices.
Karen Ward, Headteacher of Clarendon Junior School, said:
“For some time we’ve wanted a path to be created so that the children can make better use of our large outdoor space, as the field is often inaccessible in bad weather. We’re delighted with the finished pathway and very grateful to Aspire Defence, Knights Brown and Gavin Jones for their support. Since the start of term, the new facility has already helped teachers factor more exercise into the school day and we can involve the children in healthy activities all year round.”
Allan Thomson, Chief Executive of Aspire Defence Limited, added:
“As an established company working to support the Army across Salisbury Plain, we were delighted to have an opportunity to help a school on our doorstep which caters for so many military families. With more Service pupils due to arrive in Tidworth over the next few years under Army Basing, we hope Clarendon Junior School will get many years of use out of the pathway. We’re proud to have played a part in improving the health and wellbeing of local children.”
The opening event was attended by teachers, school governors and representatives of Aspire Defence, Knights Brown, Gavin Jones, Army Basing and Wiltshire Council. Following the ribbon cutting, Mrs Perry and the running club were put through their paces by Fusilier ‘Mac’, with the children completing five laps of the pathway (equivalent to one mile), cheered on by their fellow pupils.
The project was entirely funded by Aspire Defence Limited, Aspire Defence Capital Works and its subcontractor Knights Brown, at no cost to the school, and was completed during the summer holidays. Gavin Jones, also an Aspire subcontractor, completed the landscaping around the path ready for the start of term.
Kevin Valentine from Knights Brown, said:
“As a business signed up to the Considerate Constructors’ scheme, it’s really important to us that we demonstrate a positive impact for the towns in which we work. We were therefore very pleased to partner with Aspire Defence to fund and build this pathway, which we completed in just a few weeks during the holidays to avoid causing any disruption to the school.”
Jonathan Aitken from Gavin Jones, added:
“After the path was installed we came in to rake and seed the edges. Working alongside Aspire, who do a lot of community projects, we often put our name forward to get involved. Being an established business in the local area, it’s good for us to get out there and do something for the community.”
Aspire Defence is currently delivering new and improved soldiers’ accommodation at several garrisons on Salisbury Plain Training Area, including Tidworth, to support the Army Basing Programme (ABP). ABP involves the withdrawal of British troops from Germany in 2019 and several Unit moves across the UK.
Under ABP, the number of Service pupils applying for a place at Clarendon School – where 85% of the children already come from military families – is likely to rise. Education provision will increase in other locations too. Land has been gifted for extensions at the secondary school in Ludgershall and provisions made for a new primary school in Larkhill, with further extensions for existing primary schools in Larkhill and Bulford; an element of this work was completed in 2016 for the move of 5 Rifles.
Major Martin Hickie from the Army Basing Programme (Army HQ), who attended the pathway opening, said:
“Under Army Basing, the Service population will increase by about 4,000 in the Salisbury Plain Training Area. Part of the planning considerations we’ve undertaken with Wiltshire County Council will ensure that we have the right provision for school children coming into the local area. There’s a significant amount of change for military families in Germany under Army Basing, so we will have a process of deeper communication with British Forces Germany as we get closer to 2019, including information packs on education and schooling, to make sure families are comfortable with all aspects of the move.”