Real Lives: Mum Colena lands award nod for her work on play

Colena has helped drive Sacred Heart's playground push
Colena has helped drive Sacred Heart's playground push
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Penicuik mum Colena Cotter is top of the class, having been selected as a finalist at the Scottish Education Awards.

Colena, 42, has been shortlisted for the Parents as Partners in Learning Award to celebrate her success in creating a new playground at the town’s Sacred Heart Primary.

The project is close to its £10,000 target and work has already started on aspects of the playground.

She will attend an awards ceremony in Glasgow in June where the judges will unveil the winners in the 17 awards.

Colena, a former pupil at Sacred Heart, told the Evening News: “I was really surprised when I found I’d been nominated, absolutely gobsmacked.

“A few weeks after that, I found out I had made it through to the final three.

“The nomination is a great thing for the school itself, it’s not just about me, I couldn’t have done this all myself.

“It will be great to raise the profile of Sacred Heart – it’s a great school, just the same as when I was there and I left when I was 11.

“I’m sure the awards ceremony will be a lovely day and no matter what happens, it will be great to be there.”

Last year, Colena, a member of the parent partnership at the school, was inspired by a short presentation by the pupil council to have a more exciting playground.

She began working with groups of other parents to encourage youngsters to create sketches and models of their ideal playground.

The group began raising vital funds for the project and has been working with Grounds for Learning to gather advice and support, while approaches have been made to the Forestry Commission and Big Lottery.

A midsummer ball featuring the swing singer Craig McMurdo generated more than £5000 and a Christmas market raised another £1500.

Colena, whose four-year-old son Cameron is at nursery and nine-year-old daughter Chloe is in primary five, said: “This is a great community, but I just felt we need a wee boost, the children deserve it.

“There’s a lot of money being spent in this are and I felt this wee school has been overlooked.

“It is a fantastic group of teachers and headteacher Mary Durkacz especially.”

Headteacher Mary Durkacz, who nominated Colena, is delighted with the recent developments at the school.

She said: “Colena has set out to help make the school environment a more exciting, challenging place where pupils really can be successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors but she also helped them develop these capacities at every stage of the journey too.”