Children at Mount Hawke Academy have thanked the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company for “the best New Year gift we could ever have wished for”.

An impressive new made-to-order adventure playground was installed in the school grounds over the Christmas holidays, replacing old, tired play equipment which was no longer fit for purpose.

The £23,000 project was helped across the finish line with a generous £2,500 donation from the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company’s Community Fund.

Teresa Thomas from Mount Hawke Academy, said: “The money from the Community Fund completed 12 months of serious fundraising and we couldn’t be more grateful to the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company for their support.

“It was an ambitious project but one which we were passionate about achieving. The children think it’s the best New Year gift they could ever have wished for.”

It is hoped the new playground will provide the growing school, near Porthtowan, and wider community with a long-lasting asset to be enjoyed by future generations.

It will promote the enjoyment of outdoor play, encourage healthy choices and create greater social interaction in the community.

Catherine Biddick, head of school, said: “The children are delighted to have a new area where they can climb, balance, jump and swing, challenging and stretching themselves.  We would like to thank the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, whose Community Fund grant has made this exciting development possible.”

Sam Hicks, Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company’s Community Fund, said: “I’m very pleased that the Community Fund was able to help with this project. I congratulate the individuals whose drive has secured this new facility for the children of Mount Hawke. I hope it is well used and enjoyed for many years.”

The Community Fund has so far awarded a milestone £50,000 to 35 different projects ranging from a set of new judo mats for a club on St Marys, to a life-saving defibrillator for the Ronnie Richards Memorial Charity in Penzance.

It was first launched in 2016 and is part of an estimated £1 million that the Steamship Group returns to the community every year through subsidised travel for islanders, NHS flights, sponsorships and charitable donations.

Bids to the Community Fund are open to voluntary groups or charities, schools and education establishments, community clubs or societies, and individuals undertaking not-for-profit projects for the benefit of the wider community.

Projects include:

  • £1,250 to Build-a-Bike, a scheme in Camborne which has helped hundreds of disadvantaged people rescue old bicycles and give them a new lease of life. The money was used to buy new parts for bikes they are rebuilding.
  • £2,000 towards a project to build a permanent astronomical observatory on St Martin’s. COSMOS, the amateur astrology group behind the plans, say the donation helped get the project off the ground. It is hoped the observatory will give a community hub to astronomy on Scilly, enabling more people to explore the islands’ unpolluted dark skies and enrich the tourism offer for visitors.
  • £850 towards the third Scilly Kids Triathlon, in which 57 children from all five inhabited islands took part. The money paid for medals, t-shirts and drinks for the school children.
  • Two return flights to Exeter for islanders Richard Wiltshire and Ian McCarthy-Lunn, who attended the Great Pilgrimage 90 to Ypres, representing the isles of Scilly brand of the Royal British Legion. They said it was a huge privilege and honour to be there.

Entries are now being accepted for funding with the closing date for applications set as February 28th.

The fund has four funding grant categories including an award of up to £10,000 for one project. The other categories are:

  • Two projects up to £5,000
  • Two projects up to £2,500
  • Four projects up to £1,250

Full details, eligibility criteria and application forms are now available from the Steamship Group’s website. All projects are judged by members of an independent panel.