Derbyshire memorial sensory garden wins strong support as TV Gladiator Giant cuts the ribbon

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A Derbyshire school’s sensory garden created in memory of a former pupil won strong support from a TV favourite when a real-life Gladiator stepped in to cut the ribbon.

The hit BBC show’s star turn Giant – real name Jamie Christian-Johal – attracted a crowd of selfie-hunters when he visited Scargill Church of England Primary School in West Hallam to officially open Michael’s Garden on the weekend.

The garden, which starts with a long path into the heart of the garden, archway, benches and musical features, busy boards, and wind chimes, was created in memory of Michael Bull, a former pupil at the school, who took his own life in February last year, aged just 24.

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The opening of the garden coincided with the school’s fair, which featured a bouncy castle, face-painting, cake sales and games, but it was Giant who drew the biggest crowd when he cut the ribbon alongside Michael’s mum, Victoria.

TV Gladiator Giant with Victoria Bull and her grandchildren, Roman and Florence.TV Gladiator Giant with Victoria Bull and her grandchildren, Roman and Florence.
TV Gladiator Giant with Victoria Bull and her grandchildren, Roman and Florence.

It was Victoria, who is a teaching assistant at the Derby Diocese Academy Trust school, and a supportive team, who raised the money to create the garden by holding a fundraising campaign, which collected £6,000 worth of donations.

Work on the project has been a family affair, with Michael’s dad Martin and family friends Mark and Deborah Abell designing the garden and Michael’s siblings Louisa, Alicia, Maximus and Sophia all getting stuck in, along with Michael’s partner Amy – along with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

Even Michael’s children Florence, two, and one-year-old Roman, and his niece and nephew, Tori and Milo, got involved.

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Pride of place in the centre of the garden is a giant bee design on the ground in memory of Michael who was also known as Mr Bee’s Knees to his friends, as well as specially chosen plants to provide a range of smells and sights, a campfire area, a tepee and seating.

TV Gladiator Giant takes on 10-year-old Miles Taylor in an arm-wrestling bout.TV Gladiator Giant takes on 10-year-old Miles Taylor in an arm-wrestling bout.
TV Gladiator Giant takes on 10-year-old Miles Taylor in an arm-wrestling bout.

Victoria said: “It feels overwhelming to open the garden and the support we’ve had is amazing.

“I really appreciate how much everyone loves the garden and I hope that people can feel the magic as they walk through it.

“It was made with Michael in mind and we’ve come together to support each other and work as a community. Everything in here has a meaning and it’s been built with love and care.”

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