Winchmore School in Enfield took a group to the Living Rainforest with their School Trip Champion prize money. 

Winchmore School pupils at the Living Rainforest

Students enjoyed a visit to the Living Rainforest in Berkshire, paid for by the School Trip Champion prize money.

Karen Tidmarsh, school travel coordinator, won the 2023 School Trip Champion Award for her passion and dedication to educational visits. The school decided to spend their prize money on taking a group of Year 8 students on a geography and science trip to the Living Rainforest in Hampstead Norreys, Berkshire.

Teacher Natasha De Souza who ran the trip, shares their experience…

The prize money enabled all 60 students to gain entrance to the rainforest and included travel costs. There was a buzz of excitement during the journey and students couldn’t quite believe they were visiting a rainforest in England.

“Wow, a sloth!”

Jack Pollington

On arrival, the groups were treated to guided tours around the rainforest and insightful talks ranging from the edible rainforest to adaptations of plants and animals, sustainability and a new talk on climate change. The students were engaged and insightful with their questions. They couldn’t quite believe their eyes when they saw a sloth asleep on a tree or birds native to the rainforest roaming freely.

An iguana at the Living Rainforest in Berkshire.

The glasshouses are home to more than 800 types of plants and animals.

The monkeys, snakes, frogs and armadillos were a firm favourite and to see them in their natural habitat made the day extra special. Everyone was amazed at how warm each rainforest section was despite the cold wet weather outside.

“I didn’t know that some tree frogs are blue!”

Nouara Hamel

The interactions between the students were very lovely to see and they enjoyed sharing their learning experiences at lunchtime. This enabled the students to enhance and develop their geography and science knowledge and understanding.

School Travel Awards 2023 winners: School Trip Champion Award

Karen (centre) receiving the award at the 2023 ceremony.

What the prize money meant to us

Karen Tidmarsh said: “Winning the School Trip Champion Award and prize money meant that we got 60 students on a trip to an environment that they would not necessarily experience in their lifetime.

”We chose the Living Rainforest because it offered value for money; Year 8 students study the rainforest and its adaptations, climate and sustainability in both geography and science. It was a great treat for the students and a way of getting them to understand the rainforest, outside of the classroom.”  

The visit was perfect for those pupils we took. It was very informative and the staff were fantastic, they could not have been more helpful. The students had great fun, learnt a lot and were hugely impressed with the layout and what was on offer.

The content covered was relevant to the school curriculum and will prepare them for GCSE content in both science and geography. We have already looked to book another visit very soon.

A school boy looks at an animal at the Living Rainforest.

The students delighted in seeing some rare and endangered species of plants and animals.

Unfortunately, Mrs Tidmarsh was unable to join us, but the students were very grateful to her for arranging the trip and on our return, we presented her with a special thank you from the students. The Living Rainforest highly commended our students on their impeccable behaviour.

“It was a fun-filled day.”

Scarlett Hallam

Thank you to all the staff who supported the trip: Miss Baptiste, Mr Conti, Mr Dearnaley, Miss De Souza, Mr Larner, Mrs McCaul, Mrs De Souza and Mrs Rossides.

Find out more about school trips to the Living Rainforest, which won Best Geography Experience at the 2023 School Travel Awards, at

Karen Tidmarsh won the 2024 School Trip Champion Award which is part of the annual School Travel Awards initiative. Read more about her, and the other finalists, here

To find out more, and enter into the 2024 Award, click here