New playground hopes for Midlothian school

Pictured are staff of ABC coach hire Lucy Neary & Jed Clarke with Nick Timotheou (Saltersgate School) centre, with some pupils
Pictured are staff of ABC coach hire Lucy Neary & Jed Clarke with Nick Timotheou (Saltersgate School) centre, with some pupils

A Midlothian school which supports children and young people with additional support needs is trying to raise money for a new playground.

Saltersgate School in Dalkeith has 125 pupils, aged 5-17. It hopes to transform its playgrounds to help meet the needs of the children there. To promote their appeal, the school last month released a video based on the John Lewis Christmas advert.

Child care development officer Nick Timotheou (43), explained why the playgrounds need redeveloped.

He said: “They are not really meeting the children’s needs. We want to make it a more sensory experience for them that can meet their needs. That will bring the children on. Making outdoor learning as productive as indoor learning.

“We have so far raised £6,000 on the back of the video, and we are hoping for more from fundraising projects.

“One of the IT guys from the school campus did a fundraiser recently. It was him that edited the video. And there are other people doing different things, raffles etc. I think the video helped spark a lot of interest in what we are trying to do. It’s something that everyone here is really behind and passionate about.

“It’s still at the early stages though. For the last couple of years I have been canvassing staff to see what they believe should be in the playgrounds.”

Nick explained what’s next for the playground plans.

He said: “We are going to meet contractors within the month to finalise our plans. To give us a better idea of what is possible and what isn’t.

“We have got four play areas. It’s such a huge project, so it will be done in phases. Not all at once.

“But once we have got one done it will move things on.

“Playgrounds cost a hell of a lot of money. It could be around £100,000.

“We will start somewhere and get on with it as it’s very important for these children to meet their needs.

“It would make such a difference on so many levels.

“Sensory games, climbing frames etc. They can really bring on their motor skills and help boost confidence.

“It’s all so important for a child’s well-being.”

Nick welcomed a recent donation of £500 from ABC Minicoach Hire: “It was amazing. It was just so kind of them.

“It was the last day before the holidays that they came in with the cheque. It was very gratefully received.

“They got a photo taken with the pupils who appeared in the video. I think we generated a lot of publicity though the video. It was within a week of releasing that that we heard from the minicoach hire company.”

The school currently has a Facebook page - ‘The Saltersgate Playground Project’- keeping people up to date with the ongoing fundraising efforts of the school and the wider community.