Hands on fun for kids - school children learn about the construction industry

Published on 28th February 2019

New cremator being lifted by a crane

Local school children have been given fun hands on experience as part of Cheltenham’s cemetery and crematorium project with Willmott Dixon, the council’s contractor.

The Willmott Dixon Foundation aims to enhance the life chances of 10,000 young people by 2020. This is measured in a number of ways including mentoring, work experience and apprenticeships. Locally the construction firm has worked with a handful of schools to provide some learning opportunities to students from primary and secondary schools to a further education college.

Saint Gregory the Great’s School took some of their school children to the crematorium site where Willmott Dixon were able to provide an enriched and fun health and safety visit involving various challenges to demonstrate the physical impact of enduring an injury at work. These included using blindfolds, a wheelchair, dropping a watermelon from height and other simple but effective techniques.

Sophie Paterson, assistant community liaison manager at Willmott Dixon, says: “Hosting the site visit for pupils from St. Gregory’s was a delight. The children were exceptionally well behaved and everyone had a very pleasant time. Giving them the opportunity to see the council’s new chapels at Cheltenham cemetery and crematorium helped students understand why site safety is so important and that building sites are not playgrounds.

“We also discussed the many different jobs in construction and stressed that even though bricks and mortar are a very important part of the industry, there are many other jobs that are construction related, but do not involve getting your hands dirty or being outside in the cold! The pupils especially liked our demonstration of the watermelon being dropped as it had a real visual impact.”

St Gregory the Great’s headteacher, Charlotte Blanch, said: “The children who attended the new site were totally inspired by their visit. They were initially chosen as they had all disengaged with school in some way and I wanted them to have a different experience to fire their imaginations. The team on the site made our pupils feel very welcome and they all had a very informative health and safety talk. They were also very excited to see the various pieces of plant working on site. The team inspired our children to ask questions and get thinking about careers in construction.

“We are happy to say that there will be a follow up event as part of our Jobs Fair on 24 June 2019, as one of Willmott Dixon’s Supply Chain Partners, L.A. Moore, demolition contractor, have been invited to bring their demolition simulator for pupils to use.”   

Further work with both Pate’s Grammar school in Hester’s Way and St Mary’s Primary School in Prestbury saw children take on the giant tetrahedron project. This activity was tailored to suit age and ability and involved children working in small groups to build the tetrahedron within a time frame.

Cllr Chris Coleman, cabinet member for clean and green, says: “Cheltenham’s new cemetery and crematorium is the council’s latest project delivered on time and on budget. We’re pleased that Willmott Dixon was able to share its considerable expertise with these schools and give the students a unique hands-on educational experience as part of the crematorium project.

“In the future, we’ll be looking to work with contractors that are able to give this kind of valuable interaction with our communities as part of their work.”

To find out more about the new chapels and bereavement services visit www.cheltenham.gov.uk/new-crem.


For press enquiries contact Communications team 01242 264332 or email communications@cheltenham.gov.uk

Notes: An open day has been arranged from 10am to 5pm on Saturday 2 March so that members of the public can visit and view the new buildings and grounds.

Bookings for cremations are now being taken for Monday 4 March 2019 onwards.

Following public consultation, 86 per cent of responses were in favour of building a new facility rather than continuing to use or modify the current buildings.

The architects, Roberts Limbrick of Gloucester, created a sensitive contemporary design that is appropriate to the 21st century but which respects the local context and character whilst providing a much needed modern cremation service for bereaved families.

Following major £8.5m redevelopment works, the first services are set to be held in Cheltenham’s new crematorium at Bouncer’s Lane Cemetery on Monday 4 March 2019.