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Hunter Valley Operations

With help from HVO apprentices, children attending Branxton Preschool will have a fantastic new space in which to play. Second year apprentices spent a day this month helping to put the finishing touches on the new 300 square metre playground space.

The HVO apprentices rolled up their sleeves to get the play space ready for the kids to enjoy by building a 15 metre garden bed boundary, constructing raised garden beds, assembling outdoor furniture, painting the existing street facing fence, laying 90 square metres of turf, installing posts for a new garden entry sign, moving play equipment as well as completing other odds jobs.

Preschool committee member Jo Woods is managing the project and designed the new space. She is very impressed with how the apprentices went about doing so much work in one day and is ecstatic with the outcome.

“We couldn’t have finished all that work in time, without the help of HVO’s apprentices,” Jo said.

“They were all lovely and polite and nothing was a problem.

“They showed great teamwork and interacted very well with the kids and staff. All the preschool staff commented on how impressive the apprentices were after they left.”

One of the apprentices went to the preschool. Its director of 28 years, Natalie Caslick, recognised Sam Dalibozek and brought out his preschool photo. Jo said some of the parents of kids attending the preschool also work at HVO.

The need for the new play and garden space is due to the completion of a new preschool building on the existing play space.

The former vacant lot of what Jo described as “sand and weeds” is being transformed into a fenced, landscaped space in which kids can learn and have fun. It is complete with a yarning circle, outdoor learning spaces, a dry creek bed and water area for water play, as well as gardens and a rainwater tank. The play space will now be able to open at the start of Term 2.

“Rising construction costs meant there was not a lot of budget left after the new building works were completed.

“As well as the work of the HVO apprentices, we have had tremendous support from parents and local businesses donating cash and goods for the space. The rainwater tank is thanks to a community grant from Glencore.”

HVO apprentice co-ordinator Paul Watters is equally impressed by the performance of the apprentices and qualified tradesman Glenn Hudson from GAMR Services, who provided support, tools and equipment. Paul said it is important for the apprentices to appreciate the need to and the value of giving back to their community.

“We build community days into our apprenticeship training program. These days develop their trades skills as well as skills in teamwork, trying new things, and communication,” Paul said.

“HVO tries to help the community wherever it can. Apprentice community days align with our values of Think Sharp, Dig In and Care.”

Other recent HVO apprentice community days include planting 400 endemic and endangered local trees to help Landcare to rehabilitate land near Lake Liddell as well as giving the Singleton Community Garden a makeover.

Last year HVO provided funding for projects at Singleton Heights and Aberdeen preschools as well as Denman and Muswellbrook South public schools through its Community Grants Program. It also funds school readiness programs for kids attending Jerrys Plains Public School.

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