A new play area has been able to swing into action at a school for autistic children thanks to a donation of £15,000 from Darlington Building Society.

Tracey Train, principal of The Mackenzie Thorpe Centre, in Teesside, described the accessible outdoor play equipment as “a godsend”.

All of the building society’s nine branches are supporting five local charities under the ‘Local 5’ initiative, and NEAS is one of the good causes chosen by the Darlington head office team.

The £15,000 grant, which has helped fund the play area, came from the building society’s annual pledge to invest five per cent of its profits back into the community.

The play equipment, featuring an assortment of swings and climbing frames, was waiting for pupils when they returned to the school, at South Bank, Middlesbrough, after the summer break.

Mrs Train said “Lots of our children have an abundance of energy and the equipment has helped harness that in such a positive way. It’s been a godsend and we can’t thank Darlington Building Society enough.”

The partnership between NEAS and Darlington Building Society has been championed by financial support officer, Alison Etherington, who has an autistic son.

The school, opened in September 2020, has 29 pupils, with the 30th about to start soon. The building is named after Middlesbrough-born artist Mackenzie Thorpe, who is a patron of the charity.