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Retirement village offers pupils a sporting chance

A unique partnership has seen a retirement village open its grounds to pupils from a local secondary school for PE lessons.

The St Monica Trust’s Westbury Fields Retirement Village has offered use of its cricket field to pupils from Bristol Free School for sports and activities.

The cricket field is the home ground of Bishopston Cricket Club and will be used by pupils aged 11 to 18 for football, rounders, American Football, ultimate frisbee and fitness sessions.

It’s an opportunity for our residents to interact with different age groups and share their own talents and enthusiasm.

Good neighbours

With the cricket field only being used for five months a year, St Monica Trust’s Director of Residential Property and Development, Rob Whetton saw an opportunity to provide neighbouring Bristol Free School with an outdoor space suitable for sports.

Rob said: “It’s important for us to make the facilities within the Trust’s retirement villages available to as many people as possible and be good neighbours to organisations within the local community.

“As well as providing an outdoor space where students can develop their sporting skills and improve their fitness, it’s an opportunity for our residents to interact with different age groups and share their own talents and enthusiasm.”

Real community spirit

Part of the Russell Education Trust, Bristol Free School in Westbury-on-Trym was opened in 2011 and also uses Greenway playing fields for PE lessons, which are a short walk from the school site.

Headteacher, Susan King said “We are delighted for our students to have direct access to such fantastic sporting facilities. It is a real privilege and will be a game-changer for our school sports.

“We are looking forward to wider community opportunities in sports and other enrichment activities, benefiting our students and St Monica Trust’s residents. This shows real community spirit and we are so proud to be partners in this venture.”

Westbury Field's 'Superman'

One resident who is looking forward to seeing the pupils in action is Harry Clayton.

Harry was an accomplished amateur athlete, winning national cross country championships, running marathons and representing Great Britain at the World and European Veterans Athletics Championships.

He has lived at Westbury Fields for just over a year and it was the cricket pitch and gym that caught his eye when he first visited the site.

Harry said: “When residents saw me running around the cricket pitch they thought I was Superman. I’m also in the gym nearly every day on the cycling machine and doing weights for my quads, hamstrings and chest, plus doing sit ups and press ups at home.”

“I still love running as much as I did when I was a young boy and it’s great to see the children getting so much enjoyment out of sport.

"The cricket field plays a central part in daily life at Westbury Fields and I hope the pupils from Bristol Free School enjoy it as much as we do.”

Further opportunities

As well as offering the use of its cricket pitch, it is hoped that the relationship between Westbury Fields and Bristol Free School will lead to further opportunities for residents and pupils, including volunteering, work experience and apprenticeships.

Rob said: “Unfortunately, it’s usually developers building retirement complexes on school playing fields that makes the headlines, so we’re extremely happy to be reversing the trend on this occasion.

“We’d also like to thank Bishopston Cricket Club for their cooperation in making this happen and for kindly offering the use of their clubhouse to Bristol Free School.”

The St Monica Trust offers both in-person and virtual viewings of retirement apartments at Westbury Fields, by appointment. Please call our Sales Team to arrange a viewing on 0117 949 4004.

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