Banksia Park's Memorial Garden
In a quiet corner of Banksia Park’s school grounds adjacent to the Library, Music and Japanese rooms is an area recognized as the Memorial Garden. It was created in 1996 after the passing of Sarah Cleaver, who was a Year 6 student at the time, from respiratory failure due to the genetic disease, Cystic Fibrosis. The idea of a contemplative garden was embraced by her Year 6 classmates who wished her to be remembered in some tangible way.
Sarah was able to attend BPPS with her two older brothers up until 1995, despite undertaking long and constant daily treatments for this to occur. She suffered a major lapse in Year 3, being admitted to hospital three times due to an antibiotic resistant bacteria which slowed her recovery. She rallied back in Year 4, playing basketball, swimming, walking her dog and continuing to excel at school but the next year she spent a total of seventeen weeks in hospital, her health steadily deteriorating after each visit. She contracted Hepatitis A and Insulin-Dependent Diabetes. Her lung function dropped to 30% so that even walking was difficult. By the end of the year she was reliant on oxygen to help her breathe. She was able to spend six weeks out of hospital over December and January but when her classmates returned to school she returned to hospital. She passed away on 2 April 1996.
The first step in establishing the garden was having a small limestone wall built as a boundary, clearing the wild couch and weeds from the area and turning over the soil. A busy afternoon or two put in by her Year 6 classmates achieved the latter. The local landscape business, in Dundee Street at the time, provided a selection of Australian native plants at no cost, placing them out for the students to dig in and donating appropriate fertilizer and a wood chip mulch to complete the job. The school purchased paving for the central area and the graduating Year 7s gifted a rustic limestone table and stools to complete it. A plaque was ordered and although the garden was initially intended to be in Sarah’s honour, it was decided to call it the "Memorial Garden" in remembrance of all those in the Banksia Park community who have passed over the years.
It quickly attracted the birds, lizards and younger children of the school. Although most who play there would not have known Sarah, and it not often used for the intended contemplation, it is most appropriate for Sarah loved to joke and laugh and that is the sound most heard there during school hours. Over the years it became overgrown and bedraggled but always retained a nice ambience.
In 2016 the overgrowth was cleared away and the dead trees, branches and weeds were removed. Some of the area was replanted with Kangaroo Paws and hopefully it will continue to maintain its purpose in the Banksia Park Primary School landscape well into the future.