Year 8 volunteers clear Heath for composting

UCS Year 8 pupils have taken part in a voluntary trip to help a local community and conservation organisation to tidy up a section of Hampstead Heath.

The 25 pupils from the Shell cohort volunteered to assist the Heath Hands charity in collecting and removing leaves for composting. The activity formed part of the Headmaster’s Lower School Award which encourages pupils to make a difference to their community.

Upon arriving in the south-east corner of Hampstead Heath last Friday, 18th November, the pupils were supplied with gloves, rakes, sacks and leaf grabbers and spent several hours clearing leaves from grassy areas and paths. The boys worked prodigiously and their efforts were evidenced by the amount of ground cleared as the afternoon wore on. They filled 30 big sacks with leaves to be composted; equating to over a tonne of organic matter.

Edward Roberts, Assistant Head (Head of Lower School), was delighted by the pupils’ contribution, saying: “The boys threw themselves into their work. The Heath Hands team explained how the leaves can make paths slippery, block drains and cause grass to rot, so the boys understood the importance of their work. The projects that the boys have embraced for the community section of the Headmaster’s Lower School Award highlight their willingness to make a difference. I look forward to working with Heath Hands again.”

Pupil Isaac Brittan added: “We were given a short briefing, then spent the afternoon clearing leaves. It was tiring but I was pleased to see how much ground we cleared. I just hope Heath Hands had a big enough compost bin! I really enjoyed it, my first experience of local voluntary work and not my last!”

The Headmaster’s Lower School Award is completed by Year 7 and 8 pupils. Over 12 months, pupils have to fulfil various challenges which are categorised as: adventure, academic, community, sustainability and co-curricular. Participants have particularly enjoyed the community projects, including reading to Reception classes at lunchtimes, running fundraising activities for local charities, and learning how electronics can help local conservation.

The programme is led by Lower School Awards Coordinator, Mark Reiderman, who explained: “The Award was introduced in April 2022 and designed to encourage pupils to take part in a wide variety of activities while in the Lower School. I have been impressed by their commitment, diligence, teamwork and leadership in the projects they have embraced.”

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