Coniston villagers were amazed as a flurry of yellow safety jackets spread over the school playing field armed with shovels, spades, rakes, saws, pruning hooks and a mechanised “whacker”.
John Ruskin School were taking part in an imaginative leadership development programme and cultural exchange with 13 business managers from major Japanese companies, which included Sony, facilitated by Impact International.
The concept is that the managers get involved in a project that supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and benefits the local community whilst working alongside the pupils to learn more about each other’s culture. Two committee members from the Coniston 14 charity road race helped school staff and Impact to oversee the four projects that were chosen:
1. Create an ‘environmental classroom’ and ecological wildlife area in the school field
2. Create a large pond
3. Repair a fence and make a new wooden gate
4. Re-engineer the entrance for 600+ cars for the Coniston 14 mile road race
The materials were mostly provided by Coniston 14 to rebuild the entrance to the field for the cars to safely cross the dampest part of the field. Over 16 tonnes of local quarry stone was spread, levelled and trampled flat by the managers and pupils. They swapped over to help line the pond, cut back the thickest undergrowth, and create wildlife habitats.
The day concluded with Coniston Fire Service assisting to fill the pond ready for planting. The Headteacher Mr Blackburn said “It is amazing how much has been done in a single day. We are delighted to now be able to take students outside into the reclaimed area and progress their ecology studies actually in the environment they are learning about”.
At the end of the day the exhausted managers - some who claimed not to have held a spade for over 30 years - ended the day being refreshed at local hostelry, The Ship.