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Sidcup school children enjoying sensory garden thanks to Rotary Club

PUBLISHED: 09:21 14 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:21 14 May 2018

The totem pole is unveiled at Marlborough School. Photo: Derek Hope -- Kent Photonews

The totem pole is unveiled at Marlborough School. Photo: Derek Hope -- Kent Photonews

Archant

Children with special needs get a taste of paradise every day since a tropical sensory garden was installed by the Rotary Club of Sidcup.

Chainsaw Dave in action. Photo: Derek Hope -- Kent Photonews Chainsaw Dave in action. Photo: Derek Hope -- Kent Photonews

Gardening specialists worked for three years to complete it, to provide colour, smell, sound and touch for the children at Marlborough School in Marlborough Park Avenue, Sidcup.

The scheme was led by Rotarians from the Vocational and Youth Opportunities Committee.

The entire project was planned to be completed in three stages.

The first was the clearing of the garden in the quadrangle.

The owl on top of the totem pole.  Photo: Derek Hope -- Kent Photonews The owl on top of the totem pole. Photo: Derek Hope -- Kent Photonews

Then, the installation of a sound system to help with lessons outdoors and allowing pupils to enjoy music and the sounds of bird song, tropical forest noises and crashing waves.

The final stage on Thursday, May 10 was a carved western red cedar totem pole presented to the school by the club.

The 12ft tree was provided by the Forestry Commission who sourced it from nearby Bedgebury National Pinetum.

It was then carved by David Lucas, known as Chainsaw Dave.

He is a chainsaw artist from East Sussex, whose work can be seen in many public places, National Trust properties, Kew Gardens, parks and wildlife centres.

The students were involved too, and could choose what they wanted Dave to carve into the trunk.

All the ideas were put into the melting pot to be discussed by Dave, headteacher Linda Lee and members of Rotary.

That done, a final design was drawn up which included a wise old owl at the top of the pole symbolising the headteacher, with a variety of smaller animals chosen by the children plus vines and leaves on the main trunk.

The final finishing touch is a wood dye to both enhance the colour and preserve the wood for as long as possible.

Rotary president Peter Wilkes said: “The sensory garden looks lovely and we hope that the finished project will give years of pleasure for the children at the school.”

And head Linda Lee added: “The beautiful carved totem pole is the centre piece of an oasis of calm in the lovely sensory garden they created.”

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