PUPILS at a Bothel school dug deep and helped plant 50 trees in the school grounds.

Youngsters from St Michael's Primary School worked alongside staff, United Utilities volunteers and representatives from Cumbria Woodlands.

They planted crab apple, hazel, hawthorn and apple breeds.

"They prepared the ground, dug the holes and put the trees in before staking them and putting tree guards round so they didn't eaten by rabbits," said head teacher Andy May.

"The kids absolutely loved doing it, there was a great atmosphere."

The new trees are the latest of over 5,500 planted across north and west Cumbria since December with help from a £435,000 fund from water company United Utilities.

The idea is to boost the amount of native, broad-leaved woodland along the route of the company’s new West Cumbria Water Supply Scheme.

The Cumbria Tree Fund has so far pledged support for 24 projects in Allerdale, Copeland and the Lake District by the end of its first planting season in March.There’s still two years to go.

Cumbria Woodlands, who devised and run the fund on United Utilities behalf, are urging landowners and community groups to send in applications for future years.

The school's new woodland and hedging is part of the long term development of its large grounds.

Mr May said: “We are very, very lucky to have big grounds with an amazing view.

"We have created animal habitats, a pond wetland area and garden with the local gardening club.

"The children have been involved and it’s a great educational experience for them to help plant and watch the trees grow.

"We started planting a hedge around the school boundary several years ago but parts have been eaten by rabbits, so some of the new trees will be hawthorn and blackthorn to replace it."

John Hilton, United Utilities West Cumbria project director, said the tree fund was part of the company’s £1m legacy fund, which also includes grants of up to £30,000 for community organisations.

“The idea behind the grants is to leave a long-term legacy which will keep improving the lives and environment of West Cumbrians long after construction finishes.

"By the time we’re finished we hope to have supported the planting of around 113,000 new trees, including 23,000 in Ennerdale alone.”

To find out more about the Cumbria Tree Fund visit cumbriawoodlands.co.uk.