A Cork National School was the recipient of two Lifelong Learning Awards on Thursday afternoon which were presented by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Colm Kelleher.
Beaumont Girl’s National School won the primary level prize for their spectacular school garden, while the second award in the Active Retired category was won by Kay O’Callaghan, a volunteer who does great work in helping to maintain the garden.
Beaumont school teacher Anne Marie O’Rourke said the award ceremony was a ‘fantastic’ day. “The sun shone, and it was a fantastic day. The Lord Mayor’s aunt is Mary Sexton, a former Deputy Principal of the school, who was present. We did a walk-through of the garden with the Lord Mayor. Our principal Marge O’Brien made a speech before the awards were presented. It is great recognition for our school,” she said.
Beaumont Girls NS boasts an extensive school garden which is in essence a school and community endeavour. The school garden was established in 2011 and since then it has blossomed. The primary school is fortunate to have assistance from parents and grandparents from the community who tend to the garden on a voluntary basis.
Ms O’Rourke said the pupils love their school garden. “The students absolutely love the garden. They have gained valuable life skills and knowledge. Anything we grow, we sell and reinvest back into the garden. It is great for the students. It gives them responsibility. It is outdoors and healthy. All the students are all involved.”
The garden has now become an intrinsic part of school life and curriculum. They started out with one raised bed, and they now have developed a sensory garden, built bug hotels, added a pergola, and introduced more raised beds and a greenhouse. They also have an extensive wild garden area to promote pollination.
The school teacher said Kay O’Callaghan along with numerous other volunteers deserves great praise. “Kay along with several other ladies are very involved with the running of the garden. Kay has provided effective leadership to coordinate the efforts of our community volunteers and 280 strong pupil population. She has energy and enthusiasm in abundance.
“The garden is a real community initiative. Our garden volunteers who initially started the project were grandparents of the students. Those children are long gone but their grandparents are still working away in the garden,” she added.