Published: May 12, 2022 | Updated: May 13, 2022

John’s legacy shines bright as six schools are awarded £34k for special enrichment projects

Guests at the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation’s Jubilee Project Fund awards presentation with (front) Pete and Linda Thornton. Picture: Dorset Biz News.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Six schools have shared a bumper £34,000 for special enrichment projects supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their students.

They received the awards from the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation (JTYAF).

The Ferndown-based charity allocated the fund in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Presenting the cheques during Mental Health Awareness Week added an extra, and important, focus.

The projects ranged from a tranquility garden, providing a quiet, peaceful space for reflection as well as counselling and wellbeing activities, to a wall art project for visual mental health support.

The JTYAF was established in 2008 in memory of Lieutenant John Thornton, pictured left.

Aged 22, he was killed while on active service in Southern Afghanistan with 40 Commando Royal Marines.

In the last 14 years, the foundation that bears his name has awarded almost £850,000 in scholarships and bursaries to more than 2,200 young people.

The JTYAF’s purpose is to encourage and assist young people to ‘climb as high as they can dream.’

Speaking at the Jubilee awards presentation, Pete Thornton, JTYAF Chair, pictured right, said: “John’s legacy is still bright out there.

“He still motivates people – and he motivates me to get up in the morning I assure you.”

The six projects receiving awards were:

  • Ferndown First School – the school council put together a bid for funding a play trail with the award paying for the centrepiece climbing frame. Outside play in early years is regarded as invaluable for a child’s development.
  • Hampreston First School – conversion of an IT suite to a reading room with help from the JTYAF.  The new space will also act as a quiet area suitable for the nurturing work necessary for children with anxiety and mental health issues.
  • Parley First School – a Mongolian Yurt in the Forest School area. It will be used throughout the year to provide both shelter and a calming space for children to receive teaching and a range of therapies including mindfulness and yoga. The funding will also support an enclosure for a small farm area.
  • Beaucroft Foundation School – construction of an outdoor performance stage. It will provide a performance space for students informally at playtime and, more formally, for the Beaucroft talent shows. A space for outside learning and play.
  • Ferndown Middle School – a tranquillity garden with the award contributing towards the ground works and planting. The idea is to make a quiet, peaceful space for children to reflect at break and lunchtimes. The space will also be used for counselling and wellbeing activities to support children’s mental health.
  • Ferndown Upper School – a wall art project providing visual mental health support for all students. The funding will also contribute towards the development of the student area in the Inclusion Hub for higher need SEND (special educational needs and disability) students.

The presentation, held at The Beacon at St Mary’s Church, Ferndown, was attended by headteachers from the six schools, students, volunteers, supporters and trustees.

Pete said: “All these projects being carried out are aimed at truly local young people, helping to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

“They really do need it.

“What with Covid in the last few years, and also all the trouble and strife that’s going on in the world, they need all the help they can get.

“We continue to be humbled by the support that John’s Foundation receives.

“Any charity is the sum of its supporters, and we are so grateful to everyone whose generosity has helped the JTYAF to continue to do its great work with young people.

“The pandemic has disrupted the life of every child in our community and for many this has significantly impacted their mental health.

“This year’s special Jubilee Fund is providing vital support with these exciting projects and will touch the lives of many children in our community.

“We feel it’s a fitting way to pay tribute to our Queen in her Platinum Jubilee year.”