Youngsters at St Nicholas School in Chippenham have been helped in their aim to build a new playground after receiving more than £19,500 from housebuilder Persimmon Homes.

The Malmesbury Road school, which educates pupils with severe, complex or profound and multiple learning difficulties, needs £170,000 to update its playground.

It was chosen as charity of the year for Persimmon Homes Wessex after it missed out on a competition run by the building company to win a house in Andover in 2012.

Instead, staff at Persimmon raised the money through a black tie ball at the Four Pillars Hotel, in South Cerney, and various other fundraising events.

The school’s playground appeal is also being backed by Paralympic swimmer Stephanie Millward, who will officially open the playground when all the new equipment is installed.

This will include a sensory garden, bright rubber safety surfacing in the early years area, new climbing apparatus and a sunken trampoline in the activity area.

A field area will be developed for team games and sport, and a new wheelchair swing and roundabout will make the playground accessible to all.

Beverley Crone, fundraising manager for St Nicholas School, said pieces of equipment would be bought bit by bit so that any funds could make a difference straight away.

She said: “This obviously is fabulous. It means we can start ordering the first thing we want, which is some all-weather canopies so pupils can be out there whatever the weather.

“The problem we have is the range of needs of the children is quite different. We have some children who need wheelchair swings, but we also have students who want to climb and we want everyone to have some fun.

“We can’t thank Persimmon enough for their fundraising efforts. Without the support from those in our community we wouldn’t be able to provide these much-needed facilities that enrich the lives of our pupils.”

Steve Roche, managing director for Persimmon Homes Wessex, said: “Everyone at Persimmon has been touched by the amazing work that St Nicholas does in our community and we are delighted to have been able to help their appeal.

“We have seen first-hand the amazing work that St Nicholas does and their staff are really inspirational. The new playground will provide a truly positive experience for the pupils.”