Bristol City footballers perform 'cutting the turf' ceremony at Nailsea school
By Carol_Deacon | Saturday, March 02, 2013, 13:10
Two Bristol City footballers performed a 'cutting the turf' ceremony at Ravenswood School, Nailsea, to kick- start a nearly half a million pound new building project.
Keir construction director Richard Davis, Bristol City FC defender Liam Fontaine, schoolboy Ben Heap, Bristol City FC midfielder Marvin Elliott, North Somerset Council chairman Terry Porter and Ravenswood head teacher Philippa Clark at the cutting of the turf ceremony
Pupils, staff and parents all queued for autographs - one little girl said: "Are you Ashley Cole?"
Three new classrooms costing £450,000 are being built at the Pound Lane special school as part of a major refurbishment.
First team players Marvin Elliott and Liam Fontaine swapped the hallowed turf of Ashton Gate to cut the first sod on Thursday afternoon, February 28.
They were helped by star pupil Ben Heap, aged 14, who won a school drawing competition with his design on how the new classrooms should look.
North Somerset Council chairman Terry Porter, an invited guest, told the children he hoped the construction company would build 'exactly like Ben's design as it would be really good'.
Mr Porter told how he was lucky enough to meet the England women's football goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain at Worle School last month.
This was at the opening of a £2.7million project called @Worle which combines community sports facilities with day services for people with learning disabilities run by the Brandon Trust on behalf of the council.
Some lucky Ravenswood teenagers had the opportunity for a kick around session with Bristol City FC coaches prior to the turf cutting.
It was a non uniform day for the pupils who sported hard hats and dressed up as builders, architects and surveyors - or premier league footballers - for the occasion.
Head teacher Philippa Clark said: "This is a thrilling development for the school and will give us the extra space and modern facilities needed for 21st century learning."
Ravenswood has 110 pupils aged between four and 19 and the young people are recording the building works as a class project.
From the demolition of the old science block at half term through to a topping out ceremony when work is completed in May.
A press release inviting people to the ceremony was put together by pupils in Mercury class with the help Nailsea People community publisher Carol Deacon.
Youngsters acted as junior reporters at the cutting of the turf ceremony interviewing the football stars and council chairman.
The children are also helping make a documentary film of the new build.
Midfielder Marvin and defender Liam who live at Portishead signed lots of autographs and promised the children they would put the May fixture in their diaries.
Liam said: "I think Ravenswood is a very nice school and I would love to come back later in the season."
Bristol City Community Trust development manager Rob Treacher said it wanted to promote sport and learning opportunities to the wider community.
He said: "We are looking to do as much work as possible with schools and different sporting bodies not just football - it could be judo or table tennis.
"It is not all about finding the next David Beckham it is about encouraging healthy activities and involvement for all."
An official opening by North Somerset MP Liam Fox is planned for mid July.
Ravenswood was destined to get a completely new school under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
This was going to be rebuilt on the campus of Clevedon Community School.
However, a change of government and the scheme was scrapped.
Luckily North Somerset Council came to the rescue with money for the refurbishment as part of a £10 million package for schools district wide.
One of the benefits of the new build is to increase the disability access at Ravenswood.