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Hoe Valley visit Herschel Park

On Thursday 9th May, we set off from Hoe Valley School in Woking, Surrey, with 17 young students ready to embark upon our ‘Play Your Part’ day and looking to further develop skills in confidence, communication, self-awareness and resilience.

After a 45 minute comfortable and quite excitable coach journey we arrived at Herschel Park, a local nature reserve within parkland featuring mature and specimen ornamental trees and, we are told, all manner of wildlife!

We were greeted by Ian Judd, the park Management Officer who took time to explain our role for the day. We were shown tools and equipment and given detail around how the work we would be doing would benefit the park environment and those that use it.

Everyone listened attentively and seemed keen to follow Ian who led us all to the area we would be working at throughout the day. As we made our way there, students engaged well with each other and with coaches and once at our designated spot, everyone took a pair of gloves and chose a tool to work with.

The key task was to clear brambles in large areas of over growth along a stretch of a path within the park. This involved cutting back and clearing amongst dense, prickly foliage. A tough task that without doubt required resilience.

Students worked hard throughout the morning under quite trying conditions but seemed to gain confidence and speed when they realised and could see the difference they were making. As brambles were cut, they needed to be raked away which required working together, showing creativity and communicating with each other to achieve the greatest results. There were some good examples of students helping each other and working out, together, the best way of completing their task.

Having worked so hard throughout the morning and shown great resilience through quite an arduous and demanding task by not giving up or giving in, everyone had built up an appetite and lunchtime was very much appreciated.

The weather was a little grim and rain set in as we ate lunch so some students helped Ian to erect a gazebo to help keep us all dry. Following lunch, an energetic game of British bulldog kicked off and rain certainly didn't stop play!

As the rain subsided we set off back to our designated work area to continue clearing. This proved challenging for some but also provided great opportunity for others to develop their resilience and determination to keep going. Many did and some overcame their own challenges, eventually realising that their perseverance would pay off.

A few students were chosen to work on coppicing, using different tools in a slightly different area, supervised directly by Ian. This seemed to generate heightened enthusiasm as a step up from bramble clearing and those involved appeared to thoroughly enjoy the experience.

When it was time to wrap up the day, everyone helped to gather and carry tools back to base. We thanked Ian for hosting the day and were thrilled to hear him acknowledge how much he felt had been achieved by the entire team.

A weary climb onto the coach for our return journey and we hope some motivational thoughts about all that had been experienced throughout our time at Herschel Park.

- Rachel Pearce, Yes Futures Coach

To find out more about how your students could get involved with the Yes Futures Programmes, please contact Sophie, Impact Manager:, 07908 687779 or visit our website.

If you're interested in becoming a Play Your Part partner, please contact Helena, Head of Programmes:

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