Gorilla UK, the event production company, has built a 75 square metre fort for the children of Chalfont St Giles Infant School and Nursery – reusing timber and other materials from its 2019 season of events.
Andy Gregorek, managing director of Gorilla UK, explains: “The local community is very important to us so it was great that we could invest some of our downtime and creativity into an exciting project benefiting all the children of Chalfont St Giles infant and nursery schools. We met with the school, offering our help with the goal of building an interesting play feature for the children. A ‘fort’ was quickly identified as the best idea and, fortunately, I had already built something similar at a school local to Burghley House in Stamford in Lincolnshire.”
Whilst working on the Dirty Weekend event in 2019 at Burghley House, Gregorek made contact with the estate, with whom he had a good working relationship stretching back over eight years. He approached them and asked if they would be prepared to donate a large quantity of larch for a philanthropic project at the local school. The request was greeted with a gracious donation of 120 x 3m lengths of the larch timber and a statement that the estate was delighted to support children enjoying the outdoors.
A local sawmill split some of the wood in half and cut some into planks so that there was a variety of larch to include in the design. Alongside this donated timber a large volume of recycled material was used in the build. Including circa 10,000 once-used timber deck screws, a vast amount of 4 x 2 inch offcuts and other used wood such as sheets of OSB, lengths of 2 x 1 and 6 x 2 inch timber, and a quantity of roofing underlay. Some new materials were inevitably going to be required such as roofing tiles, picket fence slats, playground equipment, and 200 bags of post mix which Gorilla UK helpfully supplied.
Gregorek continued: “All materials had to be carried the last 50 metres uphill so provided a good out-of-season workout. The fort was designed to maximise the used materials we already had, to minimise the use of virgin materials in line with our green ethos. It had to be an open design so the teachers could see a 20 strong class of small children unaided. The design also had to accommodate a slope, a drop of approximately three metres over the length of the fort. Making it comply with safety guidelines was imperative. The design also had to have no closed spaces to prevent bullying and a bright, open design that could be accessed from all sides.”
Gorilla UK then embarked upon a two-month build on the Shakman Field during some of the wettest conditions on record. More than 600 hours of labour were dedicated to the building of the fort, working in between servicing their rapidly expanding storage and logistics business.