Kelso’s ‘fantastic day of education by fun’

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More than 1,200 local schoolchildren descended on Kelso for the Border Union Agricultural Society’s (BUAS) Schools Countryside Day at Springwood Park on Tuesday.

New exhibitors this year included Berwickshire materials company Ahlstrom, the National Mining Museum, Flodden 1513’s Ecomuseum and the Scottish Government’s Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA).

Halyrude Primary School, Peebles at Countryside Day at Springwood Park in Kelso who won first prize in the 'Design a family farm' painting competition.

Halyrude Primary School, Peebles at Countryside Day at Springwood Park in Kelso who won first prize in the 'Design a family farm' painting competition.

BUAS secretary Ron Wilson said: “The Border Union is absolutely delighted.

“It was a fantastic day of education by fun.”

The primary five pupils from more than 60 schools saw indoor and outdoor exhibits and demonstrations, including collies working sheep, old and new farm machinery, pets, shoeing, shearing, wildlife information, felling information, auctioneering, animals, including Eriskay ponies, sheep, goats, pigs and fowl, and they had the chance to ‘milk’ a model cow.

Mr Wilson continued: “The children and teachers had the opportunity to see all and everything that grows in the countryside, the produce used for our food and the animals that are reared and others that live in the wild on the land and in the water.

“There were also spinners, felters, stick-making, bee-keeping and many other country crafts on display, including a five metre by four metre map of the River Tweed.

“Many of the exhibitions were hand-on and ‘touchy feely’, and every child would go home having learned something: what lurks in the water, how paper is made from a tree, butter is made from cream, how sausages and haggis are made with practical demonstrations, how seeds grow and all manner of other wonders of nature.

“This day could not happen without the exhibitors’ huge effort and all the extremely hard work of our Border Union directors and staff, and over one hundred volunteers and the support of our major sponsor, National Farmers Union Centenary Trust, and many other sponsors.”

Ancrum teacher Katie Warnock said: “It’s backing up the healthy-living projects we have been doing.

“It’s been fantastic and it’s nice for the children to do their learning outwith the classroom. We could tell them about sausage making, but here they are actually seeing it.”

The SASA stand gave children the chance to touch germinating seeds and match raw products with food such as wheat and bread. SASA’s Jean Angles said: “The children are sponges of knowledge. They are really interested.”

Peebles’ Halyrude teacher Emma Farrer said: “It’s a fabulous experience for them. They are definitely doing lots of learning.”

Kelso’s Broomlands teacher Pam Whittaker said: “We just presume the children have some knowledge because they live in a rural area, but that’s not necessarily the case. It’s a good age as well because P5 are old enough to understand the basics.”

For the Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum, education assistant Megan Pearson said the museum attended because part of its remit is to educate about the battle on both sides of the border.

Its stand allowed children to track where Scottish horses taken by the English had gone.

Newtown St Boswells’ P5 teacher Patricia Watson said: “There are so many different things: you can only cover a few in the classroom. The children get a lot out of it.”

She added it also allowed teachers to make contacts to follow up for further projects.