One of the things I am passionate about is the importance of education because it is the wealth of the individual and the nation.

Also, as well as teaching excellence, I feel the school's ambience must promote learning in an environment with natural habitats, greenery and cleaner air.  

Many readers will be aware from my column last year that a key priority for me as a Woking borough councillor and since becoming a school governor has been to support the initiative launched by Vikki Zeila from the Parents Teachers Association of Knaphill Schools to transform the concrete monotony.

Unfortunately, despite concerted efforts by Vikki and other members of the PTA, it has not been easy to raise funding for the project. However, with perseverance, we have raised £2,700 through fundraising events and donations from local businesses, which is well short of the £12,800 required for the first phase of the four-phase project. The total cost of the project is approximately £55,000.

Knaphill Schools project
The project aims to transform the concrete monotony (Hassan Akberali)

Nevertheless, I remained undeterred and, in my readiness to collaborate across party divisions to serve residents’ interests, I reached out to my Conservative Party colleague, Saj Hussain, who, as well as being a Woking borough councillor, has also been the Surrey county councillor for Knaphill since 2013. As a county councillor, Cllr Hussain, who is also chairman of Surrey County Council has access to a bigger pot of funding than I have as a borough councillor.

So, recently, Debbie Harrison, the headmistress, Vikki and I had the pleasure of inviting Cllr Hussain to look at the project's potential to help provide a healthy learning environment. We were delighted when Cllr Hussain recognised the creative and dynamic importance of the project and the benefits of making children conscious from a young age to play an active role in protecting the environment and engaging in community projects.

Hence, I am pleased to say that we convinced Cllr Hussain to pledge his £5,000 allowance, which he is entitled to spend as a county councillor. He has also advised the PTA to submit a grant application to Your Fund Surrey, which allows each county councillor to allocate between £1,000 and £50,000 funding for small community projects in their local areas.

Therefore, it is a promising start because the fund has grown to £7,700, still £5,100 short to kick-start the first phase while we await the outcome of the Your Fund Surrey grant application which Cllr Hussain believes stands a good chance of success.

The PTA will continue to work hard to secure funding to reach its goal because it believes the project aims to introduce practical aspects of localism-based activities that encourage civic duty as part of the academic curriculum and nourish the mind, body, and soul.

Also, such initiatives will help to transform the physical environment of Knaphill Lower and Junior Schools and lead the way for other schools in Surrey and across the country to do the same.

For further information about the project proposal and how to donate, contact Vikki at [email protected].

By Cllr Hassan Akberali