Buddy up . . . Ardgowan School pupils Pippa McMillan (left) and Mia Berry (both 9) are proud their "buddy bench" idea is now a reality. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

A new “buddy bench” at Ardgowan School is making play times less lonely.

Pupils Mia Berry and Pippa McMillan came up with the idea last year after seeing another pupil sitting alone during a lunch break.

Pippa said the boy was not someone they talked to very often, but they did not want him to spend the lunch break by himself.

Pippa and Mia put their heads together and pitched the “buddy bench” idea to acting principal Dana Goodall.

The concept was simple – if a pupil felt lonely, they could sit on the bench as a signal that they needed someone to play with.

It was great to see Pippa and Mia come up with an idea to look after their peers, Mrs Goodall said.

The two year 5 pupils were involved in every step of the project and had even written letters to potential sponsors.

“[The girls] were keen to see it through,” Mrs Goodall said.

Great Southern Group in Invercargill sponsored the bench and the Oamaru branch sorted out its delivery. Mrs Goodall was touched by the fact that someone in Invercargill was willing to sponsor a school in Oamaru.

“They just really liked the concept.”

Pippa’s mother Nicki McMillan helped to paint the bench its signature Ardgowan School yellow and black colours. Heliventures Ltd, Streeter Concepts and Design Federation were other sponsors.

The bench was installed on Monday, and Pippa and Mia had visited every classroom to let pupils know how it worked.