Eco-playground built on a foundation of old tyres

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It’s always great to hear how old tyres have been recycled for original or exciting projects and a West Country primary school has just put a whole stack to good use.

Doddiscombsleigh Primary School near Exeter used recycled tyres packed with earth for the foundations of its new eco-friendly covered play area.

And last week Jonathon Porritt, a leading environmentalist and former director of Friends of the Earth, visited the school to officially open the playground.

The timber for the building comes from trees that grew close to the school on Haldon Hill and the sedum matting was grown at a nursery in Bridford by parents.

The design won a national Education for Sustainable Development prize because of its environmental and sustainable credentials.

Yesterday, Henrietta Vercoe, chairman of the sub-committee which raised funds and oversaw the £111,000 build, said she was “beaming from ear to ear” after the visit from Mr Porritt, who founded environmental charity Forum for the Future.

She said: “This has been my life’s work for eight years, and it’s just wonderful to have this sense of completion and to be acknowledged by someone so special.”

Ms Vercoe first contacted Mr Porritt in November 2004, to ask him to open the building the following year. But she heard nothing and the project was delayed. His PA contacted her later and he agreed to be the project’s patron.

The project’s design process started back in 2002 when an artist in residence, funded by Awards for All, held school and community workshops and produced the first drawings and models. The school was supported by the Prince of Wales’ Duchy Fund, Ugbrooke Environmental Ltd and Dartmoor Sustainable Development Fund.

But more than half of the money has been raised through the school’s highly successful biannual Art Show.

Oliver Hall, Operations Team

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