Outdoor club in Uckfield wins prestigious award

Uckfield Mayor Cllr Ian Smith with ECO Club members
Uckfield Mayor Cllr Ian Smith with ECO Club members

A groundbreaking club which aims to get youngsters outdoors and teach them about their environment has been given a prestigious award.

Principal of Uckfield Community Technology College Hugh Hennebry, teachers and student members of UCTC’s Eco Club welcomed Cllr Ian Smith, Mayor of Uckfield together with Bob and Lyrrs Mardle, two judges who awarded the club the inaugural Best Environmental Project award in the annual Brighter Uckfield competition.

Pictured here in the heart of the ECO area at the college, next to the wildlife pond and surrounded by beehives, natural wild habitats and a large bug hotel, the visitors made the presentation and were then treated to a tour of the rest of the site and the other ECO facilities.

Debbie Isley, the teacher in charge of the project, told the Express: “We have an acre of land here and we keep pigs, rabbits, chickens and we even have budgies. Students of all ages come along to take part - it’s an important subject now and also it helps get children out of the classroom and into the open air.”

The ECO Club also hosts a vital new subject on the college’s curriculum; Land and Environment which is aimed at Key Stage IV students.

The subject is ideal for anyone who has an interest in working outdoors. Students who opt for this study can manage, develop and gain valuable practical skills and teachers say it is suitable for students of all abilities.

Work includes planting and caring for trees, working on a communal fruit garden and orchard, nature conservation and organic methods, caring for livestock, modelling commercial enterprise using garden projects grown in the college and pond maintenance.

Debbie said: “All ages come along, from 11-18. We’ve had a fantastic response and huge amount of interest. There is also cross curricular activity as the club has relevance for people studying geography or science. It’s also about sustainability and we study traditional Sussex forestry and farming practices.”