Thistles shopping centre has gifted local school, Alva Primary, with a dedicated ‘buddy bench’ for its sensory garden, created by the centre’s kids club

Thistles shopping centre in Stirling is showing its support for local children by gifting a ‘buddy bench’ to Alva Primary School to provide a place for pupils who need someone to talk to, or who need a break from the stresses of everyday life, with a welcoming place to sit.

The bench was created by the centre’s kids club, the Wolf Pack, with children aged 3 to 10 years old from across Stirling and Forth Valley working hard over recent months to create a beautiful, inviting space for pupils in need.

Taking up residence in the new sensory garden within the primary school grounds from Tuesday 7 December, the bench will be utilised by children of all ages during break times and outdoor play sessions. With a bright, colourful design, it aims to cheer up those in need and put a smile on the faces of those who see it.

Gary Turnbull, Centre Director at Thistles, said: “Over the last few months our Wolf Pack kids club participants have been excited to create a buddy bench for children in need in the local area. They’ve spent a lot of time painting and considering how the bench could be used, leading to us choosing to gift it to a local primary school.

“When we began conversations with Alva Primary, we realised very quickly how well the school aligns with our values of inclusivity and, after hearing about the sensory garden, decided it would be the perfect place for our bench to live.

“We hope this will prove to be a safe space for pupils in need and would like to say a big thank you to everyone involved in our Wolf Pack for their hard work and creativity this past year.”

Victoria Hamilton, Depute Head Teacher at Alva Primary School, said: “We were absolutely delighted when Thistles reached out to gift the school a buddy bench. The bench sits perfectly within the sensory garden we are creating, where children can go during busy lunch and break times, if they need a bit of space. We are also working hard on our outdoor learning curriculum and all classes are spending much more time in the outdoor space around our school playground, so the bench will be well used throughout the day.”

The latest initiative in the centre’s #ThistlesHelps campaign, Thistles has continued to show its support for the local community over the past year. From offering free retail space for one local business, to giving back to charity through partnerships with Strathcarron Hospice and Reanimate, the shopping centre is committed to supporting people across Stirling and Forth Valley.

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