Outbursts of torrential rain didn’t dampen spirits at the opening celebration of the new Knowle West Children’s Centre site on Friday (16 March).
Parents past and present, curious residents and councillors attended the event in Leinster Avenue as well as South Bristol MP Karin Smyth, governors and some of the the centre’s neighbours
The whole building has been extended with improved facilities and a huge amount of flowing space – while the garden has been completely landscaped to include features such as a reclaimed canal barge, bridges and a “tree house” as well as carved wooden sculptures, an outside cookery area and a tunnel emerging from a grassy bank.
The entire staff and pupils had spent a year at Inns Court Centre while the refurbishment took place, returning in January.
The cutting of the ribbon was performed by Deputy Lord Mayor Jeff Lovell and one of the first governors, resident 87-year-old Mildred Ford who has had grandchildren and great-grandchildren attending the Children’s Centre.
Cllr Lovell said as Deputy Lord Mayor he was invited to many events but this was special and as a “Filwood lad and a councillor” it was something that had been talked about for a long time.
He said: “…We have the Media Centre, Knowle DGE and now we have this wonderful garden… When you build something like this you can see the kids love it and when they love it they want to come to school and they will learn…”
Head Teacher Sarah Salmon thanked neighbours, parents and children who had been “so fantastic during the new build.”
She said: “…None of this would have been possible without my incredible team – they’ve worked so hard….”
Parents were equally enthusiastic as they explored all the new facilities with their children both inside and out.
Local mum Peace Bailey (32) has a son Noah who is currently in Early Years (EY) 3 class. She said: “I think its excellent, my son went to Inns Court Centre and to this site in January, he’s really enjoying himself, he’s got more space, more choice and more toys and especially with the garden which is very important for a three-year-old.”
Anna Garland (30) has a daughter Bella who used to attend Knowle West Children’s Centre (KWCC) and son Sidney (two) who has started at the new site.
She says: “It was amazing beforehand but its even better now, you cant fault it, I don’t know if you can get this anywhere else in Bristol… We’re very fortunate you feel honoured your children can have this space, they make it feel part of the community. …”
Cllr Chris Jackson is one of the governors at KWCC told The Knowledge he felt it was one of the best school gardens in the country for children to play in.
“…Thanks to Matt and the parents who designed it, it’s come out better than we expected and bigger too.”
Deputy Head Matt Caldwell remarked at the end of the afternoon: “It was lovely to see old friends, new friends and different generations in hailstones and sunshine of a spring afternoon.”