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Last Sunday morning, over 100 people attended the Big Dig – an event where people from schools and the community gave up three hours of their time to help clear the site near St Paul’s CE Primary School, to make way for the new Larkhill Rise Forest School. Radio Lancashire broadcast live from the event and MP Jake Berry was in attendance.

Some paths and benches still exist from the original 2005 project , but new features will include an outdoor classroom, mud slide, mud pit, fire pit, mud kitchen, bog garden, vegetable garden and poly tunnel and willow tunnel.

The new facility will be used primarily by St Paul’s Church of England Primary School, Bright Futures Nursery School and Alder Grange Community, Technology School but it will also be available for use by local charities such as Home-Start Rossendale.

Work will continue over the summer with a fence going up around the premises and the land will be cleared and trees trimmed ready for its opening in September. Buildings and facilities will be added as money becomes available.

Acting Headteacher Samaira Nasim said, “I would like to thank our partners and everyone who so far have contributed to make this dream a reality. I would also like to pass on the thanks of the Larkhill Rise Forest school team to everyone who turned up with their families for the Big Dig 2. Although it was hard work, it was really rewarding to see how much we all achieved. There was a great community spirit with the children really enjoying all the wildlife we uncovered!”

Parent Nusrat Karim said, “Larkhill Rise Forest School will be a wonderful resource for my children. I am delighted that the schools and nursery are proactively providing different learning activities to engage them and boost their confidence.”

Jake Berry reflected, “St. Paul’s School is a real example of how to make your school family an integral part of the wider Rossendale community. This outstanding project has drawn in local parents, pupils, teachers along with other local people who are working together to improve the learning environment for young people in the Valley.
I was glad to be able to help, and I hope that I am invited back to sample the eggs from the hand-reared chickens.”