With trowels and gardening gloves in hand, the Handforth community turned out in force to plant an area of St Benedict's school field with an abundance of shrubs, bulbs and seeds in memory of a much-loved member of the school and village.
Over 150 people came together on Saturday 19th October to plant hundreds of bulbs to create 'Marchbank Meadow', an area of the field set aside as a memory garden in tribute to Val Marchbank a midday supervisor at the school who died last October.
Val was lead lunchtime supervisor at St Benedict's, having started working at the school in the early 1980s as a cook, together with her sister Rose, who was then the site manager. Val had five children and six grandchildren, most of whom have attended the school.
Acting head teacher, Hannah McGuire, who organised the occasion said: "After a week of rain, the sun shone down on us on Saturday morning. It was very moving to see past and present parents and pupils from the school as well as teachers and members of Val's family, all walking down Hall Road cradling plants, bulbs and spades.
"Mrs Marchbank played an important role in the children's daily lives at school and was held with great affection by all, so it was a very difficult time for both staff and pupils when Val passed away last year. She always remembered the names of children she'd worked with years ago, and she set up a special VIP lunchtime awards which the children loved.
"Val was also well known in the community as she walked everywhere and always made time to talk to anyone."
After a few hours of digging and planting, the crowd gathered together to say some words and a prayer in memory of Val and enjoyed the experience of mingling with everyone in the sunshine.
Hannah said: "We felt that the garden would provide children with a beautiful and peaceful spot where they can go during breaks and dinner time during the warmer weather, and we think Val would have loved the idea of sitting in the garden herself."
Hannah McGuire, who has been acting head of the school since September, officially takes up the role on 4th November.
Mrs McGuire, who lives locally, said: "I'm absolutely thrilled to have been selected for this role. I've always felt honoured to be a part of this school and I am passionate about driving it forward. The children are keen to learn, the staff are highly dedicated and we have amazingly supportive parents.
"I've been a member of the local parish since I moved to the area and I've always been impressed by how prized and supported the school is by the local parish community. I endeavour to work more closely with the parish of St Benedict's and also with the wider Handforth and Wilmslow community."
Mrs McGuire first joined the school in 2014 as a year 5 teacher, and was promoted to deputy head in 2015. Before joining St Benedict's, she worked at Mount Carmel in Blackley. She has three years' experience as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENDCo) and is also a language specialist, with a degree in Spanish and German; something she is keen to build on at St Benedict's.