PUPILS helped education charity the Ernest Cook Trust (ECT) celebrate this week after numbers of children visiting its country estates ballooned to over 25,000 a year.

Year 2 children from Hatherop Castle School in Cirencester joined in the celebrations during their regular visit to the trust’s Fairford Estate.

The trust, based in Fairford, has seen a huge surge in demand for its free outdoor education programmes for schoolchildren.

Visits to its estates nationally have risen from 10,000 children in 2009 to over 25,000 last academic year.

Of those 25,000 visits, most were to ECT’s Fairford and Slimbridge estates in Gloucestershire, which welcomed 15,750 children.

The Ernest Cook Trust is one of the UK's leading educational charities and focuses on conservation and management of the countryside.

It owns and manages 22,000 acres of landed estates across five counties in England.

ECT’s chief executive Nicholas Ford said: “This is a very significant milestone for the Ernest Cook Trust and it’s really pleasing to see that demand for the work we do, helping children to learn from the land, is steadily increasing among schools.”

For more information, visit www.ernestcooktrust.org.uk