NOTE: Lifecycle finished around 2016
In the Autumn we raced ducks on Water Lane, in the Spring we watched mesmerised as lambs were born and in the Summer we climbed ‘Windmill Hill’ for picnic. Over the course of the year we became very fond of our 8 and 9 year old visitors from Greenfield’s Community School, and it transpires that the feelings were mutual.
As a Lifecycle helper I shall treasure a number of memories including watching as children ran wild with excitement to the top of the hill on a warm and windy June day, immediately rolling crazily to the bottom and, covered in grass, repeating the procedure with whoops and shouts of joy. We walked up the hill cheerfully and nobody complained, stopping once on the way for biscuits and juice and an opportunity to draw the summer in all its riotous fullness.
The picnic at the top of the hill was perfect with sandwiches made by the children themselves and bowls of melon chunks and strawberries followed by home made fairy cakes. Picnics just don’t get better than that.
Games took place after lunch in the sunshine and whilst some children played others just sat and took it all in. ‘I feel safe here’ said one boy seriously, ‘There’s no throwing bottles, and nobody’s always playing football.’ ‘This is definitely real life.’ said another, and I knew just what she meant.
We walked down lazily at the end of the afternoon and stopped at the Post Office where ice creams had been purchased as a treat. I was interested to see that every child put the wrapper in the bin without being reminded, and everyone said ‘Thank you’. In fact one child was ecstatic ‘This is a dream.’ he whispered, ‘It’s the best day of my life!’
When the bus came to take the children back to the Meadows it was too soon for all of us. We learned the song ‘Shalom’ and sang it to each other as we shook each hand and made our goodbyes count. One of my picnic pals stayed back and sidled up to me ‘Sue’ he said, ‘Yes.’ I answered, and then he paused. ‘I’m really gonna miss you guys.’ I know what you mean pal.’ I replied, ‘I know just what you mean.’
At the end of term some of us went to the school for ‘Greenfield’s got Talent.’ Teachers were dressed up as Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Cheryl Cole whilst the Head teacher took the afternoon off and invited Elvis Presley to compare the show in his stead. It was all great fun and shows that there are still schools around which value first hand learning, self esteem building and good old fashioned fun as part of each child’s’ right in education. As a Head-teacher for some 20 years I utterly approve on all counts.
The class handed over cards on that day to say thank you for the visits and although every one deserves a mention, I will quote just a few to give you a flavour of what they contained:
‘You are beautiful friends to me’ wrote one child, ‘[I really enjoyed that song we learned I felt like crying when we sang it. I will never ever forget you – friends forever – that’s what I’ll call you from now on – friends forever!.’
‘I especially enjoyed the Summer visit because when we left Sue gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek. I liked that.’
‘I liked it when we went up the hill and looked at the fresh green grass watching the birds flying in the blue sky. I wish I could go there one more time to see how beautiful it is again.’
So where did ‘Lifecycle’ leave me and the others on the team? I venture to say even more thankful than ever for the lovely spot in which we live and with a sense that when you think you are doing something for someone else you often find yourself being the one who is receiving the most, especially when the ‘someone else’ is a child.
The new children are coming tomorrow and the stream is cleared for the 2010 Duck Race – so off we go again!
PS ‘Thank you’ to everyone who supported our fundraiser in the village hall with ‘Loose Chippings’ and chilli! It was a good evening and we made enough money to ensure that the project can continue throughout this year. Your support meant so much to Lifecycle Oxton