The MGGS Development Trust was delighted to welcome The Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Marion Ring as the guest of honour on Tuesday 9th July 2019 to officially open ‘The Woodland Garden ~ Our space to remember and reflect’.

The project was born from an idea from Mrs Green, our School Counsellor, who wanted to create a safe space where students, staff and their families could mark significant milestones in their grief and where, as a counsellor, she could work with students to support them. It is a sobering statistic that 1 in 29 young people have experienced the death of a parent or sibling and many more will have experienced the death of another loved one, such as a grandparent, a friend or a pet. Mrs Green commented, “I am pleased that the project has grown to be so much more. Nature can be calming and grounding. In a world that is so busy “doing”, this garden can be a space to “be” rather than “do”. A space to remember a loved one but also a space to reconnect to nature, to others and to ourselves, and a space to reflect on what is important in life in the midst of the stress and busyness. A space that the whole MGGS community can use. I look forward to using this garden to support students, for example by creating memory stones that can be placed here as part of their counselling, or outside of counselling at a time that is important for them to mark, to being able to take our work out of the counselling room into this beautiful space where they can reconnect and reflect.”

‘The Woodland Garden’, designed and created by Greenwood Landscapes, has a theme of circles. Circles have strong symbolic meaning and have been used throughout the garden to represent inclusion, wholeness, nurturing and unity.

The school ran a competition to design sculptures for the garden and the winning entries have been brought to life by a local blacksmith. Each form group takes turns in looking after the garden to ensure that it is well maintained and there is a real community feel about it. This garden is not only for the students to enjoy, but also for them to take ownership of, with a sense of responsibility and dignity.

Everyone at MGGS is thrilled with the garden and it wouldn’t have been possible without the very generous donations from Headstart Kent, Bovis Homes, the MGGS Parents and Friends Association, current students and staff as well as our beloved Alumni. The garden has provided a place for the friends and family of MGGS to leave a legacy. Mrs Lila Brewer, The MGGS Development Trust and Alumni Relations Officer said, “It has been wonderful to work with families and see their joy in having their own bench, sculpture or an area of the garden in memory of a loved one.”

Former MGGS student, Pauline Unwin, contacted the Development Trust because she wanted to create a memorial at the school for her mother. Susan Rosier was a much loved and well respected Maths Teacher at MGGS until she retired due to ill health in 1997. Sadly, Susan never got to enjoy her retirement as she passed away shortly after leaving us. Staff and students collected money for her family, who wanted to use it to create a memorial. The Woodland Garden has provided Pauline, her father Brian and her family with the opportunity to do just that. They have sponsored the beautiful Moon Gate and a rose in Susan’s memory, as well as a bench which will be positioned next to a cherry tree at the entrance to the garden.

If you would like to leave a legacy in the new MGGS garden, please contact Mrs Lila Brewer via lbrewer@mggs.org and come to visit our special place.

See Kent Online’s article here https://www.kentonline.co.uk/maidstone/news/school-opens-garden-to-help-grieving-pupils-208340/