A former caretaker with an amazing talent has got hundreds of schoolchildren grinning like Cheshire Cats.
Nigel Little, who started as caretaker at Weaverham Primary Academy but now manages facilities at all schools run by North West Academies Trust (NWAT), is using his passion for model-making to bring colour and excitement at the sites he looks after.
His new masterpiece, a Cheshire Cat which is putting smiles on children’s faces Weaverham Primary Academy, is the latest in a long line of stunning creations including Matilda, The Beatles, The Gruffalo, The Bog Baby, The Hungry Caterpillar and a beast from How to Train Your Dragon.
Nigel, from Weaverham, who previously worked in construction, as a publican and as a used car salesman, says his connection to schools has re-ignited his childhood love of theatre and design.
He said: “It started when I wanted to do something for the kids for World Book Day so I built Roald Dahl’s The Twits out of old tables. Then I made some Angry Birds for an anti-bullying campaign, and it just got bigger and bigger.
“I did The Hungry Caterpillar for the younger children at Weaverham Pre-School and then thought I’d go one better and did The Gruffalo out of an old exercise ball and used two plant pots for legs.”
Word of Nigel’s talents, which see him primarily make use of salvaged items, modelling wire and Modroc plaster, quickly spread to other schools within NWAT and he is inundated with commissions!
Nigel, who is married to former school cook Debbie, added: “The teachers love the models as much as the children do so I’m always getting asked to do something.
“I also love to build props for theatre which started when my daughter, Lilly, was in a production at this school. I have since done props and puppets for Nantwich Players. I don’t look online for ideas, it just comes to me.
“It can be labour intensive, but they cost very little money and I love to see the look on children’s faces. At first, they looked a bit scared of the dragon I did but it soon turns to excitement! It brightens the schools up and brings a bit of joy.”
NWAT runs schools across Cheshire and Shropshire, and all have benefitted from Nigel’s fantastic abilities.
Jo Price, Head of School at Weaverham Primary Academy, said: “The children love the models- they are a talking point for books that we have shared or classics that we want the children to learn about and they look fantastic too.”
“We always use the models as a cross-curricular project as it helps the children to get creative and to learn about more than just the book itself. Each class is researching and writing about a character, as many children have watched the films, but may not have read the books. Year 6 studied Alice in Wonderland and have written a poem together. They also found out that Lewis Carroll lived just up the road from us in Daresbury!”