Children at Everton have a furry friend watching over them at playtime

Clara Nicoll with Lenny and Layla, by the illustration at Everton Heath Primary School.
Clara Nicoll with Lenny and Layla, by the illustration at Everton Heath Primary School.

Youngsters at Everton Heath Primary School are enjoying having a ‘furry friend’ in their playground.

Every break and lunchtime they are watched over by a huge mural of the school mascot, headteacher Aileen Russell’s Labrador puppy Heathcliff Bailey.

The mural has been painted by professional illustrator and portrait artist Clara Nicoll, who has two children at the Ofsted ‘outstanding’ school, part of The Cam Academy Trust.

The idea for the mural came from Ms Russell, who wanted bright flowers and five tree species to reflect the names of the classes – beech, oak, elder, ash and saplings.

Her puppy took pride of place among the giant poppies and cornflowers, chosen to match the school’s claret and blue colours.

Mrs Nicoll, who frequently works for schools in Herts, Beds and Cambs painting mural for hallways and classrooms, took a fortnight to complete the 4mx1m acrylic artwork, which covers the width of the school’s outdoor swimming pool.

She said: “The entire work took me about two weeks to do in addition to the kind volunteers helping me prepare the brickwork and start laying down the first coat of paint.

“The school PTA also contributed to the project by supplying the paint so it was a case of just putting in the hours over the summer holidays. I really am grateful to the school for the amazing education they give to my and other local children, and that they get a level of tuition that larger schools just can’t provide.”

Ms Russell said: “The children say that it makes them smile when they come out to the playground and that they are still spotting things within the picture that they hadn’t initially seen.

“To have a locally produced piece of art work, which they can study closely on such a huge scale, has benefited our pupils’ artistic evaluative skills greatly!

“I am very grateful for all the hard work and effort that Mrs Nicoll has put into this mural project.”

More of Mrs Nicoll’s work can be viewed at, on Instagram and Twitter @claranicoll.