A group of school students are rolling up their sleeves to gain gardening skills and brighten up the courtyards at Hereford County Hospital for patients and visitors.

Students from Hereford’s Robert Owen Academy began the learning project early this summer, planting marigolds, petunias and dahlias in a number of the hospital courtyard areas, many of which were grown from seed at the academy.

Under the guidance of Sodexo’s grounds and gardens staff, the students are gaining valuable skills and experience as horticulturists cultivating and planting a range of bedding plants.

A celebration was held this week with the students to mark the second phase of the project to create colourful planting displays to last throughout the Autumn.

Frank Myers, non-executive director at Wye Valley NHS Trust, said: “We wish to thank the Robert Owen Academy students for highlighting this opportunity and for volunteering their time and bringing new ideas and enthusiasm to transform the courtyard areas for patients, visitors and staff at our hospital.

“This is a great example of local organisations and businesses working together with young people to provide real life work experience opportunities, which also benefit the local community”.

Andy Hubble, Robert Owen Academy Principal, said: “We are delighted to see the results of the students’ hard work and wish to thank Hereford County Hospital for the opportunity of supporting this project. We have a very clear remit at the academy which is to support learners in accessing the world of work by developing technical and vocational skills. Projects like this are essential if students are to enter the adult world fully prepared for the challenges that lie ahead”.

Sodexo Business Manager, Julie Moakes, added: “It is fantastic that the courtyard areas are being transformed and we are committed to building on the success of this long-term project with the academy students”.