AT the start of The Royal School’s eighth Grow For It, gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh was looking forward to meeting the 600-plus children attending the popular event.

Alan said: ‘It is all about connecting children with nature, the environment, the outdoors.

“We are so aware now of things we shouldn’t do, like the damage caused by plastic, but this event is about what we should be doing – pottering about outside, encouraging children to get muddy and find worms.

“Young children experience life in such a sensory way that a vivid impression can last forever – the smell of a plant, the feel of soil, the quietness that can be found in a garden – there is a joy, a delight and a spiritual uplift that can be found by us all.

“The wonders of the great outdoors are ours to be giving to the next generation and they need to be prepared for the responsibility.

‘Grow For It is so successful because it gives children a wide range of different activities that really engage them.

“They love collecting the activity stamps, finding the bugs, the pond life, discovering new parts of the woods on the nature trail… this is why so many families come back year after year.

“Parents and grandparents are keen as well, they want their children to learn about nature.

“It is also important to us this is a free event, open to all with children under 11.

“All the Royal School staff give up their Saturday so it is truly a whole community event and a most enjoyable one,” said Alan.

The annual May event is supported by Waitrose.

This year’s activities included annual favourites such as the bug hunt, pond dipping and planting with the former Groundforce presenter.

Some returned from previous years such as growing a grass head and making dream catchers.

Kids could also build a wormery and mak boggarts out of clay while The Gruffalo enjoyed showing families around the nature trail.