How One PTA Dad Become a Showstopping Volunteer!

Community Involvement England
25 May 2022
As part of National PTA Week 2022, we’re looking back at some of our incredible past winners and nominees.

With National Volunteers’ Week falling 1st-7th June, and Fathers’ Day just around the corner, it’s the perfect opportunity to highlight the #PTAPower of John McKimmie…

Setting the Stage

Eccleston PTA works tirelessly to support the 150 strong Eccleston CofE Primary School. Everybody pitches in to support the school’s various fundraising drives and enrich the school environment. However, when it came to nominating somebody for our PTA Volunteer of the Year Award, Chair Nicola Said knew exactly who deserved it.

John McKimmie has two children at the school, in Year 2 and Reception, but his impacts go far further than just their years. In March 2021, John volunteered to make some improvements to areas of school play equipment identified in the ROSPA assessment,’ Nicola explains. He did this free of charge, saving the PTA over £500, and the results were amazing!’ Whilst working on this project, John came up with the plans for a new Outdoor Theatre for the school. He came up with a design and sourced quotes to establish a budget, got the buy in from the school and the PTA and the fundraising efforts kicked in in April.’

Volunteer in the Spotlight

John was involved in everything, supporting the fundraising, getting local business sponsorships, and further tailoring the project to the school, including biblical and personal quotes, as well as a dedication to the Eccleston children, engraved into the wood. Supporters could sponsor the project, and create memorial spaces. Headteacher Katie Prescott says, This has not only provided vital financial support for the project but also allowed people to create a lasting memory for people lost. Eric Findlay, a much-loved Dad at our school, tragically died two years ago and John has created a personalised bench with a highly appropriate quote chosen by his widow. This is only one example of many.’

After John sourced materials, and following just two weeks of construction, the build was complete! Every morning, afternoon and weekend he worked through wind, torrential rain and sun — in fact he spent more time at school than most of the pupils, working until 10pm on some nights!’ Nicola says. He roped in his dad and friend and the children who carried the bark in buckets therefore contributing to the build, even approving” everything he did! He has inspired them with his vision, encouraged them to get involved in the process and most importantly has given each and every child, regardless of age, something to be excited about.’ John ensured the theatre came complete with a PA system, microphone, smoke machine and bubble machine. The excitement on our children’s faces when they saw everything was incredible!’ says Katie.

A Standing Ovation

The response to John’s project was overwhelming. John is an inspiration with his endless energy and enthusiasm!’ said one parent. He saw a need and just went for it, and now the children have an amazing creative space to use in the playground!’ He works away in Scotland for two weeks at a time, and for someone that already spends a lot of time working away from family, the time he gave to the project is even more selfless.

Despite the current restrictions, we have already performed once as a whole school, socially distanced of course, to celebrate John’s work and the official opening of the theatre,’ says Katie. Local celebrity Matt Baker was on hand to help and the children performed an original song written in lockdown.

This is a project which will last and last. A piece of history for children of many future generations.