Students from Newcastle Academy and Westlands Primary School have volunteered to support a project, lead by Thistleberry Residents Association, to improve an ancient trackway which runs parallel to Newcastle Academy sports fields between Gallowstree Lane and Keele Road.
Last week Angela Drakakis-Smith, of Thistleberry Residents Association, enthusiastically shared her knowledge about the trackway during a fact-finding tour along the path. The students also had many tales to tell of how they have used the space to play in – trees they had climbed, dens they had made in the undergrowth, games of hide and seek or adventurous make believe. The students identified a number of native tree, plant and bird species and were excited to talk about how they could work together to support wildlife and plant life in the area.
Back at Newcastle Academy, over hot chocolate and cookies, students and staff spent some time discussing how they could work together and recording the ideas. Angela was keen to consider:
- work to cut back the vegetation and what adults and the children could do here
- ways we could enhance but not change the trackway – planting, encouraging wildlife and people to use it
- researching the history of the trackway
- ways to keep a record of the work we will do together in order to pass this on to others
- creative things we could do to support all of these activities.
Mrs Whelan (CEO of Newcastle Academy) was thrilled to report that the artist Ian Mood has also agreed to do some work with the project during his term as ‘Artist in Residence’ at Newcastle Academy. Ian is already working on a project based on the paintings of his grandfather Sid Meir and plans to hold an exhibition of his finished pieces (his own work alongside his grandfather’s) to coincide with Stoke Literary Festival in June 2017. Ian intends to add some artwork to support the improvement of the trackway, or use the story we develop of the work to form part of his own work on the trackway.
Mrs L Alderman (Year 1 Teacher at Westlands), Mrs J Clegg (House Leader at Newcastle Academy), Mr T Rogers (Principal at Newcastle Academy) and Mrs W Whelan (CEO of South Newcastle Trust) were all involved in the initial launch visit and will continue to support students in the project as it develops.
Mrs Drakakis-Smith is expecting to be in touch with the students again soon when we can begin work. Mrs Alderman and Mrs Clegg are collating student ideas and will be passing these via Mrs Whelan back to Mrs Drakakis- Smith by the end of this week. We are all looking forward to establishing a long lasting partnership to improve and protect a very special piece of local history and environment.