Students plan colourful floral display to brighten school exterior

Green-fingered Ron Dearing UTC students are creating a colourful, wildlife-friendly environment to brighten up an external area of the Hull city centre school.

The Ecology, Conservation and Gardening group comprises of 10 Year 11 students and one Year 10 student who are all determined to improve the area’s outside space, next to the car park, and the car park entrance.

The students met with local resident Diana Lowthorpe, who has lived in the area for 25 years, to share their planting ideas and drawings as they prepare to spend their £1,000 budget on kick-starting the project.

Their ideas include perennials such as lavender and hydrangeas, as well as roses, honeysuckle which will be planted to climb up the wall of the school building, and several other plants which flower all year round. The students hope to attract pollinators while improving the area for local residents.

Year 11 student Sienna Williams, 16, said: “It’s exciting to do something proactive and practical to help make a difference and I love working as part of a team.

Ron Dearing UTC students talking with local resident Diana Lowthorpe about their plans.



“We want to make it as nice as possible for the residents and improve the view for them with more colour.”

Fellow Year 11 student Skylar Dawson, 16, created most of the drawings to show Diana where they plan to position the plants and how they hope to bring their ideas to life.

Skylar said: “We’ve got a blank canvas to work from, which is great, and I’m really proud to be involved. I’m happy because Diana was very pleased with our ideas.”

Diana said she is looking forward to seeing the project come to fruition and hopes to support with watering the plants.

She said: “It’s a fantastic project and the students’ suggestions are great. I would love the wall to be covered in colour and the roses are a lovely idea too.

Rory Graham, Biology teacher at Ron Dearing UTC, with the students and resident Diana Lowthorpe.


“The plants they’ve suggested are great for bees and butterflies, which is so important, and it’s all very positive. I look out onto the wall and it’s very exciting for me to know this project is starting so soon. I hope I’ll be able to pop out and help them.”

The group has been formed as part of Ron Dearing UTC’s extensive enrichment programme, which encourages students to embrace other cultural and inspiring interests alongside their studies.

Rory Graham, Biology teacher at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “We’re keen to attract pollinators and bring lots of colour and greenery to the area. It will be much prettier to look at once it’s complete.

“We hope we can get more students involved to maintain the area and I’m looking forward to seeing it progress.”

Ron Dearing UTC student Matthew set for 6,000 metre charity trek in Nepal

A Ron Dearing UTC student is preparing for the adventure of a lifetime, tackling the highest trekking peak in Nepal to raise money for charity.

Matthew Preston-Blake, 15, and his father Kris Blake will trek 6,476 metres to the summit of Mera Peak during a 17-day endurance challenge that will test their stamina to the limit.

They are raising money for Freddie’s Friends, a charity set up in memory of two-year-old Freddie Appleyard, who was born with a rare brain disorder and died in December 2008 after battling a series of serious health complications since birth.

Ron Dearing UTC student Matthew Preston-Blake during his Everest Base Camp trek in 2019.


The charity provides specialist equipment, support and respite for disabled children and their families and more than £500 has already been raised towards Matthew and Kris’ £2,000 fundraising target.

The father and son duo have funded the entire cost of the trek themselves, ensuring every penny raised through donations is donated directly to Freddie’s Friends.

They will fly to Kathmandu on April 11 and onto Lukla, taking in stunning views of the Himalayas and acclimatising to the altitude and surroundings in the Mount Everest region.

Year 10 student Matthew and Kris are no strangers to trekking and Matthew became one of the youngest ever people to reach Everest Base Camp when he was just 12 years old, raising more than £1,500 for the Hull 4 Heroes charity.

They will be accompanied to the summit of Mera Peak by an experienced Sherpa who has climbed Mount Everest 14 times.

Matthew said: “I’m really excited to reach the summit but also slightly nervous. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I love the culture, the people and everything about the country.

“I hope we can raise as much money as possible for the charity.”

Kris Blake, left, with his son Matthew Preston-Blake, went wild camping and trekking in the Scottish Highlands in preparation for their for their Mera Peak challenge.


Matthew and Kris will trek for between six to seven hours per day and stay in teahouses, similar to mountain lodges, overnight.

Kris, Director of Hull and Leeds-based AJ Building, a Partner of Ron Dearing UTC, said: “It will be great to complete another trek with my son and everyone at Ron Dearing UTC has been really supportive.

“I’m really proud Matthew can join me on this trek because he will gain some excellent life skills.

“He gained a powerboat qualification and open water diving certificate all before he was 13 years old and he’s been ice climbing in Scotland. This will be another great adventure.”

Matthew and Kris’ preparation for the trek included a weekend expedition in the Scottish Highlands, as the challenge in Nepal will put their fitness levels to the test during the trip.

Matthew Preston-Blake, left, and his dad Kris on their Everest Base Camp trek.


Freddie’s mother Rachel Appleyard, who is also Key Stage 4 Information, Advice and Guidance Mentor at Ron Dearing UTC, said she is grateful to the pair for supporting the charity.

She said: “It’s amazing that Matthew and Kris have chosen to raise money for Freddie’s Friends.

“It’s a small charity run by my husband and I, and every penny raised will make such a difference to the children and their families.

“Everyone at Ron Dearing UTC is so proud of Matthew and Kris. Not only are they gaining such an incredible life experience, they’re raising awareness of Freddie’s Friends too.

“We’re looking forward to following their journey and hearing about it when they come back.”

To sponsor Matthew and Kris click here.