Mud back on the menu at local pre-school

National Grid helps restore play area at Wembdon Sunshiners

A local pre-school in Wembdon, near Bridgwater, has seen its outdoor play area undergo a dramatic transformation following an offer of help  from National Grid’s Hinkley Connection Project team and supply chain partners, H&Askham.

In winter 2020, Wembdon Sunshiners Pre-School and the surrounding area were hit by severe rainfall resulting in the flooding of outdoor play areas, including the prized mud kitchen. The damage left the pre-school with few options except to close the area to the children. With the pre-school dependent on grants and charitable fundraising to cover operating costs, the repair of the play area was not financially viable.

Simon Lukins, Project Supervisor on the Hinkley Construction Project, stepped in. As a local resident with children at the pre-school, Simon was keen to help and approached H&Askham, civil subcontractors at the Shurton 400kv Substation, to ask for help in restoring the mud kitchen to its former glory.

On the weekend of 24/25 April, team members from the Hinkley Construction Project and H&Askham arrived at the pre-school to begin the works. The volunteers excavated 10 tonnes of soil, installed a series of drains to help prevent future flooding, lined the edge of the mud kitchen with a wooden frame, and backfilled the area with 14 tonnes of stone – including the clean stone for the soakaway (designed to drain away excess water caused by heavy rainfall if the drainage system struggles to keep up with demand).

Rather than replacing the existing stone slabs, H&Askham also donated artificial grass to the pre-school to improve the safety of the play area. This was laid by the team of volunteers following the ground remediation works. The team also reseeded existing grass and fixed a damaged water pump which had become rotten owing to the flooding in winter.

It’s really improved the children’s quality of play.

Testament to the hard work and dedication of the team on site, the project was completed in two days – a feat of workmanship owing to the size and scale of the works required.

Simon Lukins, Project Supervisor on the Hinkley Construction Project, commented: “Wembdon Sunshiners Pre-School is a huge part of the local community. It was a real loss to the children when the mud kitchen needed to be closed because of the rainfall. We’re thrilled to have been able to work alongside our supply chain partners, H&Askham, to give back to the children of Wembdon.

“The whole experience was so rewarding. To see the smiles of the children and the interest from local people and parish councillors made it all worth it. We hope to see the works benefit the children of Wembdon for many years to come”.

Wembdon Sunshiners Management commented: “Due to heavy rain in winter 2020, we had to close off the mud kitchen due to flooding. We were overwhelmed by the offer of help we received from National Grid and H&Askham. They went above and beyond by not only providing all the materials needed, but also by providing the people power over the whole weekend needed to carry out the work for free.

“They have totally transformed the area for the children. The children play in it constantly, and it has really improved their quality of play. We would like to say the biggest thank you to all of the volunteers at National Grid and H&Askham, from all the staff and the children at Sunshiners, for the incredible job you have done”.