A special community partnership between paint makers AkzoNobel in Ashington and Castle School in North Seaton has had a transformational impact on the children, the school and project volunteers.

Staff at AkzoNobel, which is best known for making household paint brands, Dulux, Cuprinol and Polycell, voted unanimously to support Castle School as their community partner during 2019.

Castle School, a special educational needs (SEND) school, is part of the Northumberland Church of England Academy Trust (NCEA) and supports children aged 3-19 years who have severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties.

The collaboration has seen more than one hundred AkzoNobel employees and a further 20 family and friends volunteering their time throughout the year to help transform classrooms, corridors, play spaces and rejuvenate an interactive sensory garden through donations of paint and lots of hard graft!

Describing the success of the community partnership, Sara Wild, principal at Castle School, said: “On behalf of all of the staff and pupils here at Castle School, we would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to the volunteers from AkzoNobel for their commitment and generosity.

“I cannot believe how much work has been achieved – it is something we could have only dreamed of before AkzoNobel approached us to be their Community Partner. Our outdoor facilities have been transformed this year! We now have an exciting and vibrant place to play and enjoy spending time in. Thank you again for all of your support – we really appreciate it!”

AkzoNobel volunteers worked during the school holidays and gave up their time on weekends to work on a variety of projects. Every hour given to transform the school was voluntary and it wasn’t only employees that picked up the paint brushes, with many family members, children and friends of staff also giving up their time to help out.

Alex Wardle, HSE specialist at AkzoNobel, said: “As a local company we are committed supporting the community in which we operate. Joining forces with Castle School as our official community partner during 2019 has been a rewarding experience for us all.  The staff do an incredible job every day to support the children and we couldn’t be happier to lend a hand in helping them to create a more colourful and exciting learning environment for the children.

“After volunteering at the school, working with them to put a plan in place and seeing the reactions of the students and teaching staff to the transformed learning spaces, I was delighted to accept the opportunity to join the local governing board. Maintaining strong local links in this manner means that AkzoNobel can directly support the future of the school and try to encourage greater integration and support from the wider community.”