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Garden with sad story wins award

Keen gardener Lola Walker, the creator of Coral’s Garden at South Featherston School, with Challenge Shield convener Coral Aitchison. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM

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A garden dedicated to murdered schoolgirl Coral Burrows will help other children open up about tough times.

The South Featherston School pupil was murdered by her stepfather in 2003.

The school has a garden dedicated to her memory – Coral’s Garden – which is complete with a “Buddy Bench”.

School principal Tana Klaricich said the children could go to the garden when they wanted someone to talk to.

The school teaches people to keep an eye out for anyone who goes there and lend an ear.

“The deep idea behind it is that if someone is struggling like Coral clearly was, that something like the garden would have given her an option to disclose what was happening,” Klaricich said.

“It is really sad. But we are trying our best to give other children the option of speaking out and finding help.”

Klaricich said Coral’s death happened during her first year as a teacher.

She remembered how changes were made in schools as a result, such as changes to roll calls and safeguarding.

“I never knew years later I would be at this school.

“Her tragedy had an impact on the safety, going forward, for every other child in the country.”

Parent Lola Walker designed Coral’s Garden.

The school’s board of trustees, other parents, pupils, staff and businesses all contributed to the project.

Coral’s Garden has earned praise from a garden awards panel in Wairarapa’s Challenge Shield competition.

The prize organisers had developed a special award to recognise the achievement which was given to the school.

It was South Featherston’s first year taking part in the Challenge Shield.

The award was re-established by convener Coral Aitchison after a 50-year hiatus.

The school is planning a sensory garden for 2020.

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