Saturday, 13 February 2010

The Friendship Bench

The Royal Park Public Meeting was well attended and a great success.
The presentation of the bid went very well and was much more interesting than Friday's presentation to the council which obviously had to concentrate more on technical details and finance.

As Sue Buckle spoke about the history of the school and the fight for the building I was struck by how important it was to tell the public about the image on the cover of the bid, projected on the screen behind her and I asked to speak at the end.

This image was of the Friendship Bench, built by children, parents and staff with a local artist in the final year of Royal Park's history as a school and still standing proud in the playground.

When I spoke, I told the meeting about helping to build the bench, and that my son had calculated the amount of concrete needed to build it. I pointed out my daughter's face and told them that I know the name of every child pictured on that bench, that they are all now teenagers and many are at City of Leeds.

I then explained that when it was built the children were told that if ever they felt lonely or needed someone to talk to, all they had to do was sit on the bench and they would find a friend. I went on to say how glad I was that this was the image they had chosen because the Royal Park community centre would be there for everyone, for help, advice and friendship.

It was a very emotional experience, the bench has become the symbol of Royal Park and carries its ethos from the old to the new. I feel very proud to be part of that.

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