Garden of learning for Claudia

The official opening of Claudia's Garden at Market Rasen Primary School EMN-151027-074625001
The official opening of Claudia's Garden at Market Rasen Primary School EMN-151027-074625001

A love of the outdoors is being fostered at Market Rasen Primary School to remember pupil Claudia Burkill who lost her battle with illness last year.

Claudia’s Garden was officially opened last week in a simple celebration of the eight-year-old’s short life.

Two of her closest friends - Abigail Mansfield and George O’Brien - gave readings and prayers were said to remember Claudia, who touched the hearts of the nation with her battle against cancer.

“This garden reflects the beauty of Claudia,” said the Rev Stephen Johnson.

“We thank Claudia for all she gave us in her life and we dedicate this garden to her memory.”

The honour of officially opening the garden went to Claudia’s four-year-old brother Zachary, helped by big sisters Abigail and Esme.

As well as being a place of beauty, the garden also contains a bespoke wooden outdoor classroom, creating a versatile outside learning space, which was put straight into use once it was opened.

The reason behind the garden area was given by Claudia’s best friend Abigail.

“When she died we were all devastated. We had lost a very special member of our school community,” said Abigail.

“We wanted to remember Claudia.

“We didn’t want to plant a tree or name a room after her; it had to be bigger than that.

“We wanted to link the joy she gave us to the joy of learning.

“Now we have Claudia’s Garden - a place of joy.

“Children for many, many years to come will play, think, dream, reflect and learn in the garden we have created in her memory.”

The garden came as a surprise to Claudia’s parents Annie and Dave, who knew nothing about it until it was near completion.

“It is a year this week since she died so the timing was perfect; we were really touched,” said Annie.

“To say it is amazing doesn’t do it justice.

“So many aspects of Claudia have been included - daisies and wild flowers which she loved; a lot of thought has gone into it.

Claudia’s Garden was made possible through a grant from the Awards for All lottery programme and additional funding.

“It was really important to us to do something lasting for Claudia,” said the school’s executive head teacher Andrew Smith.

“Seeing children having such fun in their learning proves that this was the right way to remember Claudia.”

The family is still fundraising for children’s brain tumour research; read more on the Claudia’s Cause Facebook page.