Alix helps out lonely pupils with ‘friendship benches’

Friendship benches at Woodburn School - Alix Renwick with war blinded Ewan Bowie
Friendship benches at Woodburn School - Alix Renwick with war blinded Ewan Bowie
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When Alix Renwick spotted some of her fellow pupils playing alone at playtime she hit upon a novel plan for the best way to help them into the fold.

So, the kind-hearted 11-year-old decided to raise money to have “friendship benches” with plenty of room for two to make sure nobody at her primary school felt alone.

Alix, a pupil at Woodburn Primary School in Dalkeith, noticed there were some children always on their own in the playground.

She thought installing benches in the playground could help solve the problem. If anyone was feeling sad or lonely they could sit on a bench and someone would go and befriend them.

She said: “It made me feel sad seeing the others playing on their own. I don’t want people to be alone and that’s when I had my idea.”

Supported by headteacher Joanna Taylor, Alix set about making and selling “reindeer dust”, slime, hot chocolate and baking to raise £400 for the benches.

The Renwick family visited the Scottish War Blinded at the Linburn Centre to find out more about how veterans hand-made their benches. They were so impressed by the quality of them that they commissioned four to be made.

Dad Graeme Renwick said: “Words can’t really describe how proud we are of Alix for someone so young to come up with these ideas of helping others before herself.

“It was a lovely handing-over ceremony of the benches as Alix goes to Dalkeith High School after the summer. We’d also like to thank the Scottish War Blinded for making the benches and showing a real interest in her project and to everyone who bought stuff from Alix.”

Midlothian cabinet member for education Cllr Jim Muirhead, said: “Well done to Alix who has shown herself to be a kind and thoughtful classmate by coming up with the idea of friendship benches. Her fundraising efforts have been impressive and this is a great example of a young person using their initiative. A big thank you to the Linburn Centre for blinded war veterans for part-donating the benches.”

Woodwork instructor James Gregson joined veterans John Finlay and Ewan Bowie at the school for an official unveiling ceremony.

John and Ewan produced the four benches along with fellow Scottish War Blinded veterans John Harling and Tom Hedges.

Ewan described producing the benches as a “privilege”, adding: “This was such a fantastic initiative from Alix and we were delighted to make them so her idea could become a reality.

“We love making things for people to enjoy in their gardens, we hope many children will benefit for years to come.”

James Gregson said: “All of our veterans who use the workshop at Linburn take great pride in their work, and they are proof that despite their sight loss, given the right support they can still achieve great things. We’re very proud that our veterans could help make Alix’s dream become a reality.”

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk