Local students tell ‘The Story of Scrap’

Hannah Cameron at the Cameron Balloons manufacturing warehouse.

The Story of Scrap is an adventurous collaboration between students at Patchway Community College, local charity Children’s Scrapstore, Cameron Balloons (the world leader in hot air balloon manufacturing) and Coniston Primary School in Patchway.

Taking inspiration from Brandon Stanton’s renowned ‘Humans of New York’ collection, it uses images to illustrate how Children’s Scrapstore reuses manufacturing waste (scrap) for a new lease of life as children’s play resources, achieving environmental and social benefits and saving businesses disposal costs.

The project exhibits the circular economy of scrap, and the journey of materials from their manufacture, to their intended use in business, to reuse, and eventually into the Scrapstore where they are sent out to PlayPods in school playgrounds, or made available to child minders, play groups and anyone who works with children and adults in a therapeutic setting.

The aim is to enhance creative play opportunities for all children. Local artists, students and community groups also collect materials from the Scrapstore to be used for whole new creative purposes. The work will be a portfolio piece for Patchway photography student’s A-levels, and was assigned to them in the form of a brief, treating Children’s Scrapstore as a formal client. Ella Wiles of Children’s Scrapstore, who helps develop the scrap supply network, will use the project to explain to manufacturers and members of the public the eccentric role Scrapstore plays and the need that their waste fulfils.

Cameron Balloons are one of Children’s Scrapstore’s longest running suppliers, and have been donating off-cuts from their world famous hot air balloons for over 30 years. Cameron Balloons was founded in 1971 by aeronaut Donald Cameron – developer and pilot of the first modern air balloon in Western Europe – and is now managed by his daughter, Hannah. They are the world’s largest and most experienced manufacturer of hot air balloons, and their scrap material is a firm favourite with Scrapstore customers, so it seemed fitting that they would be the focus of the supplier’s side of ‘The Story of Scrap’.

Scrap ripstock from balloon production enters the Children’s Scrapstore warehouse.

The A-level photography students, along with their tutor and Scrapstore board member Pete Simpson, visited Cameron Balloons to photograph the Bristol factory, and making of a balloon, which can take between two days and two weeks to create. The students also had the opportunity to chat with Hannah herself, as well as factory staff that cut, sew and even unpick the giant air balloons by hand. At Children’s Scrapstore the group met CEO Jeff Hill, and learned how the materials donated by local businesses become part of the charity’s warehouse full of re-usable business waste, before going out to schools across the country as part of their PlayPods scheme.

Finally, the students visited Coniston Primary School, where the materials take a new shape again. Brought back to life by children who turn scraps of hot air balloon into dresses and hats, cables to pull sledges across the playground, rope to tie up hammocks… in their imaginations the possibilities are endless.

Ella Wiles commented that: “this is fantastic opportunity for everyone involved. We have often struggled to find ways of demonstrating the value of what we do and the project from the students has made it not only possible but perfect. Cameron Balloons have been superb and helped in so many ways both on this project and over the years. We hope that many more businesses will explore the value and joy we can bring to children through this work.”

Scrapstore aims to do many more projects like this in the future, working with different groups and members to spread the word of where scrap comes from and how it gets used.

‘The Story of Scrap’ will be on display at Bristol’s Engine Shed exhibition space between May and June 2016.

Children at Coniston Primary play with scrap from their Scrapstore PlayPod.

Photos: 1 Hannah Cameron at the Cameron Balloons manufacturing warehouse. 2 Scrap ripstock from balloon production enters the Children’s Scrapstore warehouse. 3 Children at Coniston Primary play with scrap from their Scrapstore PlayPod.

This article originally appeared in the March 2016 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.