Musical Sensory Garden Celebrates Special Pupil Henry

The Willows Primary School in Timperley, Cheshire, has paid tribute to a popular former student by completely refurbishing the memorial garden named in his honor.

‘Henry’s Garden’ was created back in 2003 in memory of Henry Gloag who lost his battle with Leukaemia aged only six and a half.

At the time, the Willows Primary School decided to create an outdoor classroom and memorial garden in the playground to remember this very special pupil. Jill Gloag, Henry’s mum, told us “Henry was born with Downs Syndrome, but this did not hold him back at school, he loved learning and adored his teachers and classmates. It was a wonderful tribute to Henry and very fitting that the school created a memorial garden in the playground after his death.”

Over the years, Henry’s Garden had been very well used and loved by the many children who have subsequently attended the school. However, gradually the garden deteriorated and last year the decision was taken to remove the structure, which was deemed unsafe, and close the garden.

Happily, the school community decided to replace the garden with a new musical sensory space for the children - still dedicated to the memory of Henry – and after many hours of work, designing, fundraising, and landscaping - the new Henry’s Garden was created.

Donations came from friends, parents, and local businesses plus Jill herself starting a crowdfunding page for the project to raise £5,000. Each class gave their input by coming up with design plans, heartfelt poems, letters, and songs. Every child and teacher painted a pebble to their own design which has been used to edge the garden and the base of each musical instrument.

The impressive new space is now a calming and reflective area that promotes the well-being and sensory needs of the whole school community. The addition of the outdoor musical instruments will help students develop fine and gross motor skills while enjoying the freedom of music-making in the outdoors. The instruments installed in the garden included; vibrant Rainbow Samba drums, a Babel Drum with calming, meditative tones, a Penta Post with five colorful pentatonic chimes, and tall Tubular Bells. The School will also be installing a reflective Bell Lyre once lockdown ends. The selection of instruments chosen can be used for lessons outside, therapy, and playtime fun.

Jill summed up this wonderful community project by telling us “There is a bit of everybody at the heart of the project and Henry lives on in those hearts. Now we have a beautiful multi-sensory space that the children can continue to use for many more generations. For me to know that Henry is still remembered on a day to day basis at the School that he loved and that the children still talk about him all these years on makes me feel very proud of the special little boy that he was.”

The sign at the entrance of the garden reads: “A shining pupil, a treasured smile, a place to sit and think a while. Let flowers grow and children play, we’ll remember him in every way”