Don helps build bridge to enhance WESC’s outdoor learning project

Don Peek has been thanked for his work to improve access on the WESC Foundation horticultural projec

Don Peek has been thanked for his work to improve access on the WESC Foundation horticultural project. Picture: WESC - Credit: Archant

Volunteers behind a new bridge have been thanked for improving access for students with visual and physical disabilities.

WESC Foundation praised the work of Don Peek, from Sidford, for lending a helping hand at its country works site in West Hill , which was set up to help the charity’s students gain qualifications in horticulture and land based skills.

Don began volunteering in the summer for several hours a week after being impressed by the project to transform the 10-acre site into an outdoor classroom.

The Sidford resident worked with fellow volunteer Steve Lawrence, from Cranbrook, and staff to build the bridge, which will enable learners with wheelchair needs to access the meadow and forest.

Patrick Phillips, horticulture project leader for WESC foundation, has been working on the site for two years – developing the facility for its children and young adults, all of whom have a visual impairment and other complex needs.

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Mr Phillips said: “Since we took over the management of the site in 2016 we have worked tirelessly to develop it as a resource for the young people who access our education, care and support services.

“The whole site is a really a huge, outdoor classroom, and it has been important to look at ways to continually improve access around the different zones.

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“I am immensely grateful to all our volunteers who plan a key role in making this happen.”

The bridge was made using timber sourced from the site, including three conifers felled from the forest area to build the foundations of the bridge.

Each piece of wood weighed over a ton, and was been moved into place using levers, rollers and a tractor.

The removal of the trees will ensure the survival of a nearby oak, which was being crowded out by the conifers.

The 10 acre site already includes two polytunnels, a huge glass house, propagating green house, fruit trees, jungle garden, pond and a forest school.

WESC says it has plans to make the area accessible for community groups, charities and conservation volunteers.

As well as a school, WESC has a number of charity shops in the area, including on Sidmouth High Street.

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