Eglinton primary schools get a special makeover

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Northern Ireland’s leading supplier of natural gas has successfully completed an environmental improvement project at two primary schools in the County Londonderry village of Eglinton.

The grounds of Broadbridge Primary School and Eglinton Primary School received the makeover from firmus energy in partnership with Kier Utilities, and volunteers from Limavady Men’s Shed.

Teachers and pupils from the two schools were also out in force to lend a hand, and once the all-important finishing touches had been applied, they gave the work full marks and a glowing report.

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The two schools simultaneously benefited from firmus energy’s Community Outreach Programme – and Kier Utilities’ Sustainable Schools initiative – after they were approached by the companies.

Kier's Micheol O’Gallcobhair, Roy Brown (Limavady Men’s Shed) and firmus energy’s Chantal HemphillKier's Micheol O’Gallcobhair, Roy Brown (Limavady Men’s Shed) and firmus energy’s Chantal Hemphill
Kier's Micheol O’Gallcobhair, Roy Brown (Limavady Men’s Shed) and firmus energy’s Chantal Hemphill

Changes intended to increase wildlife activity included weed removal, wildflower sowing and path laying as well as installing new wooden benches, bug hotels, and boxes suitable for Swift birds.

Bug Hotels are known to encourage pollinators and pest predators and play an important role in repurposing unwanted materials, while Swift boxes provide safe shelter for a bird whose numbers have fallen sharply meaning they are on the UK Red List of birds of highest conservation concern.

Chantal Hemphill – firmus energy’s Environment, Health, and Safety manager – said: “When the two primary schools were contacted, they were very receptive to our initial proposal. From that point onwards, we worked closely together on plans to enhance their respective ECO Club activity.

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“We received fantastic support from the members of Coleraine and Limavady Men’s Shed – they built some bird boxes, benches, and bug hotels using waste wood that came from our packaging.

“The school children have also been provided with a quantity of wildflower seed to sow to help enrich their local environment and promote further learning around biodiversity,” added Chantal.

Given the success of this recent environmental initiative, firmus energy is currently exploring how it can offer assistance to other primary schools based in the ‘Ten Towns’ and Greater Belfast areas.

Chantal added: “firmus energy and Kier are committed to continued engagement with Eglinton and Broadbridge Primary Schools, and plans are already in place to help deliver environmental lesson plans that reinforce the Northern Ireland Curriculum. We look forward to engaging with more schools within our licence area to deliver similar environmental, and sustainable, projects.”

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Recent studies have shown that exposure to nature can improve academic performance, mental and physical health in school children, and help teach them about environmental stewardship and the importance and benefit of protecting natural habitats.

For further information on firmus energy’s Community Outreach Programme and how schools and businesses can get involved, visit www.firmusenergy.co.uk/about-us/in-the-community.

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