AN ORCHARD has been opened at a Basingstoke primary school ahead of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The Priory Primary School opened the garden yesterday (May 26), recognising the school’s commitment to biodiversity in the area.

The official opening ceremony welcomed the school’s staff, governors and local entrepreneur Mandy Lieu, who has supported the project.

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Mandy Lieu, who owns Ewhurst Park, also provided thoughts on the partnership between her estate with the school, ecological diversity and her rewilding ambitions.

She said: "It's an inspiration to see the enthusiasm of the students for their wild garden and newly planted orchard. There will be many joyous apple picking seasons ahead and it’s a fitting tribute to the Queen’s seventy years of service that these trees will be here for at least seventy years more. And the orchard will be a wonderful asset to support biodiversity and enjoyment of nature in the wider community."

The event also provided recognition to the service of Mrs. Angela Stacy, a member of the school’s catering team, who is retiring after 26 years of service to the school.

As a tribute to her work, the pagoda within the garden has been named the “Angela Stacy Pagoda”.

The event featured a speech from members of the school and the schools eco council.

Charlotte Williams, a spokesperson from the school, said: “The orchard will provide shade, tranquillity and a haven for wildlife. The orchard marks how passionate our school is about nature and wildlife. ”.

Angela Stacey, who works at the school also attended.

She added: “I am so proud of my time working at the Priory, it is a wonderful school. I will be back to the Priory soon to take some photos of my family and I sitting in the Pagoda.”

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Mike Stewart, headteacher, said the Orchard features 53 newly planted trees.

He said: “It will grow to become an area of great natural diversity in our beautiful Priory grounds. It is my firm belief that offering our pupils opportunities to connect with plants and the environment provides an essential aspect of the children’s education, enriching their souls and enhancing their wellbeing.”

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