Memorial tree fundraiser launched for Northampton teaching assistant who went 'above and beyond' for community

So far more than 60 people have raised more than 800 in Sue's memory.
So far more than 60 people have raised more than 800 in Sue's memory.

A Northampton school is reaching out to artists to carve a rescued tree in their grounds and keep a much-loved teaching assistant's memory alive.

Sue Biddle, 57, worked at Bridgewater Primary School in Abington where she ran Welly Wednesdays and Forest Fridays - inspired by her character 'Harry the Hedgehog'.

She also volunteered to help at the crèche on parent evenings, school breakfasts and nurture lunches.

But in the summer holidays this year the inspiring woman lost her battle to cancer.

In her memory, the school is hoping to get in touch with an artist who can carve Sue's name into the tree she once rescued from Abington Park.

Headteacher Alison Harvey said: "Sue nurtured the environment and nurtured the children and all those around her and we are fortunate to have been connected to her.

"We will endeavour to carry on Sue’s legacy and maintain the pond and a love of learning about the outdoors following Sue’s wishes that she scribed in a notebook, and alongside the family’s wishes."

Sue rescued the tree after spotting the story in the Chronicle & Echo about a Wellingtonia tree in Abington Park which was set to be chopped down.

But after writing to the council she asked if Bridgewater could look after the red-wood tree instead.

The school has started up a fundraising page to raise money in Sue's legacy which, at the time of writing, has raised £890.

"In due course at the right time, there will be a lasting tribute to Sue at school to make it something special that will reflect Sue’s special qualities and passion for outdoor learning. We are overwhelmed with the contributions that people have donated and would like to find someone to carve the Wellingtonia tree with swifts, bumble bees and wild life and develop the dipping platforms around the pond."

The teaching assistant was also a committed governor to the school and served for many years contributing valuable ideas, time and energy.

She was often to be seen at the Northampton Town Carnival too, alongside the Bridgewater float, collecting for charity and also the Diwali Parade carrying a lantern with the children.

Sue would recycle the lanterns for ‘Carols on the Green’ where the whole community comes together and she would bring out the twinkly lights from the back of her potting shed, making it a magical annual event.

Mrs Harvey added: "She was kind-hearted, caring and thoughtful but what made Sue stand out was that she inspired a love of the outdoors, wild life and nature at Bridgewater.

"She ran ‘Welly Wednesdays’ for Early Years, and was often seen with a group of children from across the school, dressed in wellies around a fire pit toasting marshmallows or hiking off to Abington Park."

"Sue was behind the development of the school pond and nature reserve and now the pond has matured it is a rich learning resource teeming in wildlife, as Sue would have wanted."

To donate to the fundraising campaign, click here.