A PEEBLES youngster has enlisted the help of local businesses to install a ‘Buddy Bench’ in her school playground.

Priorsford Primary pupil Lucy Paul, aged 10, wanted to help children who feel isolated make new friends.

Having seen videos of Buddy Bench on YouTube, she wrote to local firms to see if they could donate.

Buddy Benches are becoming increasingly popular in America and are based on a simple idea – any child who feels sad or lonely can sit on the bench and a friend will find them.

Installing the new bench was part of Lucy’s ‘personal independence project’, Priorsford’s initiative to encourage children to come up with ideas themselves and ‘think outside the box’. And she was thrilled when Stobo Castle Health Spa agreed to donate a bench.

Jenni Watts, marketing director of Stobo said: “We were approached by Lucy Paul who asked if Stobo had a spare bench they could use in their playground – our head groundsman thought the children deserved a brand new one and was only too happy to arrange this.

“Introducing a Buddy Bench is a fantastic idea and I hope many new friendships are made as a result.”

When the new bench was delivered, Lucy began the next part of the project – decorating it.

Scott Bros hardware shop in Peebles helped her pick colours and donated the paint.

And, four coats later, the bench was painted and ready for the playground.

A family friend helped produce the ‘Buddy Bench’ text on the back of the seat and Lucy added the finishing touch with the words “If you’re feeling sad or blue, take a seat and a buddy will find you” written on the seat.

The bench was moved into position in the playground shortly before Christmas and is already helping children join in with their peers during playtime.

Mum Lynne said: “I feel proud of what Lucy has achieved. She’s an amazing wee girl. I know she’s mine so I’m a bit biased, but she’s got such a lovable nature and is just a really cool wee girl.

“She’s always put others first and has recently been made an ambassador for the school. I’m very proud.”