A piece of heaven in a schoolyard at St Albans school

A ST ALBANS school has celebrated the opening of its new prayer garden in the school grounds.

The culmination of four years of planning and fundraising, the beautiful garden at St John Fisher School in Hazelmere Road was opened by Bishop George Stack of the Diocese of Westminster.

Designed by pupils, the garden is laid out in the shape of a rosary, and will be used as an area of quiet reflection as well as for a place to share stories and for use in all areas of the curriculum.

Teaching assistant Lisa Gratte explained: “The school has raised over �1,000 to pay for the garden by donations and cake sales, and also by getting the whole school community to take part in a sponsored 1,000-mile walk – the distance from the school to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

“Every child took part, and walked between one and eight miles each, with the children in reception walking one or two miles, and the older children walking up to eight miles each. Parents and staff also joined in.

“The staff and parents dug out the garden themselves, and our local garden centres and florists have been so generous.”

The garden was built and planted by parents and staff, and many local garden centres, nurseries and florists helped with generous contributions of plants and vouchers including Aylett Nurseries, Carpenter’s Nursery, Notcutts, Burston Garden Centre, Homebase, Morrisons, and Perfect Moment Florists in Marshalswick.

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At the heart of the garden is a beautiful 5ft pine wood cross, made by a generous parishioner who has asked to remain anonymous.

Ms Gratte explained: “The school chose the Feast Day of St John Fisher to open the garden. Bishop Stack held an outdoor mass for the whole school community, and blessed the garden. He also donated rosemary, thyme and lavender to be planted. The families had a picnic in the grounds, and every class sang a song to celebrate.

“The children have been learning songs from Sing Up, and they performed a range of songs, including rap! It was a wonderful occasion for the whole school community.”

n St John Fisher became the latest St Albans School to be included in the Bike It scheme with the opening of their new bike shelter financed by an �8,000 grant from Herts County Council.

Headteacher Charles McNerney explained: “This is an exciting time for St John Fisher school which has been transformed by the help of such generous grants.

“Cycling has really taken off and can only be a positive for the pupils and parents of the school.”

Richard Noon from Sustrans, the school’s new Bike It scheme officer, opened the bike shelter.