Wooden Spoon-gifted gym fit for purpose

AN outdoor gym funded by Wooden Spoon Hertfordshire is in near-constant demand from students attending a special school for primary-aged children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties in Hemel Hempstead.

According to the head teacher of Haywood Grove School, the suite of fitness equipment installed thanks to a £12,000 grant from the children’s charity of rugby has become a firm favourite of her four-to-11-year-old pupils.

“The children absolutely love the new addition to our outside area and will often ask to use the equipment at almost any time of day,” said Catherine Smith, whose school caters for youngsters who have been excluded, or been on the verge of being excluded, from mainstream education as a consequence of their “challenging” behaviour.

“The only problem, children tell me, is that they have to queue up. This is a measure of the impact that this new equipment has had.”

Head teacher Catherine Smith is flanked by Ben Ransom (L) and Wooden Spoon Hertfordshire chairman John Batters

The feedback was welcomed by John Batters, chairman of Wooden Spoon Hertfordshire, who attended the official opening alongside his region’s honorary president and London Irish fullback Ben Ransom and England and Saracens star Billy Vunipola.

John, who was first introduced to Wooden Spoon during his time as a rugby referee in the 1980s, said: “My early involvement with the charity was purely down to rugby but, as a grandfather, what motivates me today are the smiles we are able to put on the faces of those we help.”

The outdoor gym at Haywood Grove School is the 20th community project opened by Wooden Spoon Hertfordshire, which hosts its annual golf day at Knebworth Golf Club on Friday, 6th October.

Anyone interested in volunteering in support of the children’s charity of rugby in Hertfordshire can contact John via