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North Staffs Olympians open JCB funded play area

Pupils at a Stoke-on-Trent school are jumping for joy after a brand new play area was installed thanks to a £24,000 donation from local employer JCB.

The Glebe Academy in Fenton serves a community classed as being one of the most deprived in the UK and its playground was in urgent need of expansion and upgrading. Now the school’s dream has come true thanks to the JCB donation, which funded the installation of a 330 square metre artificial grassed surface.

Today the new play area was officially opened by JCB-sponsored athletes, slalom canoeist Adam Burgess, 28, of Stone, and triple jumper Ben Williams, 29, of Newcastle, who staged a special PE lesson for pupils to mark the unveiling. The pair took a break from training from the summer games in Tokyo to put youngsters through their paces after cutting a ribbon at the opening ceremony.

Glebe Academy Principal Suzanne Oakes-Smith said: “As the school sits in the lowest 2% of deprivation in the country, with many of our pupils having no gardens or access to outdoor space, being able to provide this new area at the school is extremely significant. Our limited outdoor space has always been a huge challenge, so the JCB donation has turned a dream into a reality. A project of this size would have been out of the reach of the school and this work will benefit us for years to come. We are thrilled and very thankful to JCB and Lord Bamford for making this happen. It’s also come at just the right time as it gives our children a safe outdoor space and enables us to meet the social distancing needs of the covid-19 pandemic.”

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford: “I’m delighted to support the Glebe Academy with this initiative because it’s so important that children have access to safe outdoor spaces.”

Adam Burgess started canoeing at the age of 10 on the River Trent in his home town of Stone and has been competing internationally for Great Britain and winning medals since the age of 14. Adam said: “We had great fun taking the PE lesson with the pupils on the new JCB play area. Fitness and exercise has been an integral part of my life since childhood and I really appreciate the importance of children having somewhere safe to exercise and run around.”

Ben Williams is Britain’s leading triple jumper. He was crowned British Triple Jump Champion in 2019 with a lifetime best jump of 17.27 metres – almost the length of a double decker bus. Ben added: “We had a great morning with the Glebe Academy and hopefully we’ve managed to pass on our love of sport and the fun you can have in keeping fit during the PE lesson.”

Both athletes are sponsored by JCB to help in their preparations for the summer games.

North Staffordshire sports stars Ben Williams (left) and Adam Burgess put Glebe Academy pupils through their paces after the official opening of the new playground.


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