EXCITED children planted more than 200 trees at Widnes Tennis Academy to create a new community woodland.

Pupils from St Bede’s RC Primary School put on their wellies, picked up spades and dug lots of holes for the saplings.

Wildflower meadows, a willow dome and new footpaths are planned to encourage the local community to enjoy the new open space.

The academy, beside SS Peter & Paul Catholic College in Highfield Road, Widnes, already offers free tennis tuition and hopes to host forest school sessions.

Alison Redmond, from the academy, said: “The woodlands will be open for everybody to use.

“We hope that by creating the community woodland, we will be able to encourage families to play together, both on the tennis court and in the great outdoors.”

The project is being funded by Runcorn chemicals giant Ineos ChlorVinyls through the Landfill Communities Fund, and co-ordinated by the Mersey Forest.

Janet Ward, of Ineos ChlorVinyls, said: “We are very pleased to be involved in this project.

“The benefits of natural play are well documented adn we hope that everybody in the community will enjoy the woodland.”

Front, from left, St Bede’s pupils Ella Gamble and Eleanor Phillips with Jo Sayers from Mersey Forest