Pupils from an Exmouth primary school are jumping for joy after a kind-hearted donation has led to them benefitting from the installation of versatile new play equipment which will ensure fun for pupils for years to come.

After Marpool Primary School condemned its playground equipment back in 2023 due to health and safety concerns, teachers have reported a lack of ‘playground buzz’ at break times and, with a shortage of funding, it was looking unlikely this would be brought back anytime soon. However, thanks to an existing relationship with gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities, the school was offered support to purchase new play equipment.

The money has allowed the school to develop a new play area, whilst a friendship bench has also been installed.

Headteacher Liz Threfall explains:

Wales & West Utilities has been working to upgrade the gas pipes in the area for some time and, as part of its community outreach work, engineers came into school to deliver a carbon monoxide (CO) safety session to pupils. Whilst a number of CO alarms were subsequently provided which we’ve distributed to some of our priority families.

It was through this that I got talking to WWU First Line Manager, Richard Beharrell, about our situation in Marpool and mentioned how not having a play area was impacting our pupils and things went from there.

Marpool Primary pupils enjoying the new equipment

Richard successfully secured funding, after which he spent his own time removing the existing equipment to allow the new set to be installed.

Richard commented:

This was a fantastic project to lead on and I am delighted that we’ve been able to transform the area in a relatively short period of time. Seeing the children’s faces now, whilst they’re able to use the play equipment, is wonderful. I hope it brings a lot of joy for a long time.

L-R Marpool Primary’s Duncan Nelms with Wales & West Utilities Richard Beharrell and Darrell Hall and pupils on the new equipment

Liz continued:

Our school budget is stretched, and we can’t ask our families for more support so, without this donation, our pupils would simply miss out.

We can’t thank Richard, and the wider Wales & West Utilities team, enough. The CO safety sessions they delivered to our pupils have had such a positive impact on our families and now this donation will ensure that our pupils will be able to have fun outdoors all year round.

We’re delighted that this funding will make such a difference to children attending Marpool Primary.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night.