Derby County midfielder Bradley Johnson officially opened the brand-new multi use games arena (MUGA) at a city special school which he helped to raise funds for on Monday.
St Giles School, in Hampshire Road, began fundraising for the MUGA – an all-purpose sports court suitable for football, netball, tennis and basketball – just over two years ago.
Together with his wife Nereasha, the Johnson family raised over £30,000 for the project by hosting a gala dinner at the Rams’ Pride Park Stadium last April.
The new games arena was opened by Johnson on Monday afternoon and his contribution was recognised with the facility named ‘The Bradley Johnson Stadium’.
Johnson said: “I first visited St Giles School in 2017 and I was overwhelmed by the dedication and great lengths that the teachers, parents and those on the PTA go to for the wonderful, charismatic children at the school. Both my wife and I made it our aim to help raise the funds for the completion of the MUGA.
“Not only did the Gala raise an incredible £30,000, it also, most importantly, raised a lot of awareness for an amazing school. I just want to personally say thank you to all of those that helped us to put the Gala together and those that came and shared in a wonderful evening – plus those who donated.”
Johnson, who was named Derby County’s PFA ‘Player in the Community’ following his work with St Giles, was joined by special guests – including club mascot Rammie – and others who have supported the project.
They included Rolls-Royce Leisure Football Club, Derby County Community Trust, The Ingles Charitable Trust, school Parent, Teacher Association (PTA) and Derby-based Maddy’s Smile; Maddy’s Smile provides funding to local families, groups and organisations to help them with equipment and resources for children and young people with special educational needs.
St Giles School PTA chairman Allan Perry and vice chairman David Martins have played a key role in securing the funding.
Martins, whose daughter, Layla, attends the Derby school, said: “The children at St Giles all have special educational needs and face many challenges on a daily basis; one being their gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are movements which involve the larger muscle groups while fine motor skills are the co-ordination of small muscles used for things like writing.
“There has been extensive research which shows that if children struggle with this, then they are hindered in other areas of learning. Something as simple as sitting at the table to have their lunch can be difficult – the children can find it tiring. It’s something which we take for granted.
“The PTA have embarked on many large-scale projects over the last three or four years and the MUGA is the latest. All children will have access to the MUGA, which will provide a dedicated exercise area so that they can learn a variety of different physical skills.
“We are extremely grateful to everyone who has helped with the MUGA.”
St Giles’ Executive Headteacher, Clive Lawrence, said: “We are very grateful for the help and support we’ve been given for this project.
“The MUGA looks fantastic and I can’t wait for our children to use it as part of their outdoor learning and well-being curriculum.”