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Bristol Memorial Woodlands offers outdoor play opportunities to local schools and children’s groups

A beautiful woodland location in Alveston, near Thornbury, is being offered up to schools and other play groups as a setting for outdoor exploration, forest schools and nature play sessions.

Bristol Memorial Woodlands in South Gloucestershire offers nearly 100 acres of woodland, meadows and picnic spots suitable for school, nursery and extra-curricular groups to visit and explore.

Primarily a funeral venue, the setting is also open to the public all year round for walks and the founders are keen to introduce more children to its unique and tranquil environment.

One play scheme which already uses the site on a regular basis is aimed at pre-school children with autism and other additional needs, and the leaders say being out in nature has great benefits for the youngsters. Early years specialists Jane Gulliver and Karen Norton, who run the playscheme, said: “We have been running outdoor sessions at Bristol Memorial Woodlands for a while now and it’s fantastic. We get a small grant which allows us to run two sessions a day for four or five days, a few times a year.

“The children we take are pre-schoolers with autism and other additional needs and it’s amazing how much their language and communication skills come on during the sessions.

“We work on independent skills and confidence and just allow them to run around and be children without the restraints of parents or teachers. The children learn new skills, take risks and do things they wouldn’t usually have the chance to do. Bristol Memorial Woodlands have provided us with the space to set up a base camp with a log circle and a mud kitchen. We light a fire and toast marshmallows and do some cooking activities, it’s great fun and supports children’s play, development as well as their wellbeing.

“It’s also hugely beneficial for the parents or carers who enjoy a few hours of respite time to get a haircut, grab a coffee or spend some quality time with their other children.

“The location is so calm and beautiful that we have had one mum bring a chair and a book along and one mum go for a jog while the children enjoyed the experiences of the woodland. We can’t thank the team at Bristol Memorial Woodlands enough, they’re so supportive when we need to use their facilities or bring water to the base camp and we really look forward to running more sessions there in future.”

Chris Baker, founder of Bristol Memorial Woodlands, said: “It is wonderful to see children playing and enjoying the grounds here. We have lots of space and so much can be learned from exploring the plants, trees and insects that can’t be taught in a classroom.

“We have several school groups which visit us regularly but we are open to welcoming more – be it school groups during the day, scout or guide groups on an evening or weekend or play schemes during the summer holidays.

“The whole concept of the woodlands is to provide a beautiful, tranquil, space for generations to come so we really want to see people enjoying it.”

Bristol Memorial Woodlands is a 100-acre cemetery at Alveston, Thornbury, offering environmentally-friendly woodland burials where trees and wild flowers are planted around plots, creating a mixture of woodland, wildflower meadow and glades.  It is managed by a charitable trust who ensure it will be properly developed and maintained for the benefit of nature and the pleasure of future generations. Memorial Woodlands has its own chapel and Georgian reception rooms and includes the Meadows of Peace, a dedicated Muslim burial ground and a Jewish cemetery. Families arrange funerals with the team at Memorial Woodlands for a morning, an afternoon, or even the whole day.

For more information visit memorialwoodlands.com.

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