Reception pupils put on their thinking hats to help vets create a wildlife friendly wellbeing garden.

The youngsters at St Michael’s CE Primary School, Dalston, were thrilled to join Paragon Veterinary Group to lend a helping hand in creating a special space at the Dalston surgery, made to make the business more sustainable.

Vet and sustainability project lead, Laura Binnie, said:

“We’ve been working hard on our sustainability plan during lockdown, and we thought it would be nice to launch it with the help of the local primary school.

“Our aim is to make Paragon carbon neutral by 2030, but I am hopeful we can achieve it a lot sooner than that.”

The schoolchildren certainly wasted no time getting active, planting plenty of fruit trees and wildflowers to add to the garden's appeal.

The garden, which features pollinator-friendly plants, is also designed to support staff wellbeing too.

“It’s a space where we are all encouraged to take breaks during the working day. We’ll use it to have informal outdoor meetings, team building events, and social gatherings such as barbecues,” said Laura.

The garden has been created without pesticides, from local and donated plants, and has areas left unspoiled for wildlife.

“Former Paragon employee Roger Holliday kindly made us a bat box, hedgehog hide, robin house and a bug hotel,” said Laura, who gave the children a lesson about encouraging the prospering of local wildlife.

St Michael’s reception teacher, Janet McArdle, said the project provided a valuable experience for the youngsters after the restrictions of the pandemic.

“We were all very excited, as it was our first trip out after Covid. We were planting trees and the children brought bird feeders they’d made from pipe cleaners and Cheerios,” she said.

“It’s something that I want to build on next year as part of the new curriculum.”

The purpose of the trip inspired the young school pupils who learnt many things, five-year-old, Kaelan said: “We need to plant trees to make oxygen.”

Laura believes it is small steps like this that create a greener world, she added: “We believe sustainability is hugely important. We hope our veterinary practice will help lead the way with positive changes to combat climate change and support welfare, wildlife and biodiversity.”

Paragon’s sustainability plan includes reducing its carbon footprint by reducing energy use, recycling, reducing environmental impact and emissions through clinical work, and sourcing locally.

Measures include a carbon audit of the business, using green renewable energy for electricity and heating, sustainable fabrics for staff uniforms and replacing vehicles with electric or hybrids.

The group hope to be a shining example of what a renewable veterinarian can be if it's given the time, energy and funding to blossom.

Paragon Veterinary Group has centres at Dalston, Newbiggin near Penrith, and Wetheral and includes small animals, farm, equine and advanced breeding departments.