Winter News 2013

Winter News 2013

Able Canopies Winter News 2013Welcome to our Winter 2013 Newsletter!

Welcome to our Winter 2013 Newsletter

We have had a busy and exciting Autumn with some great installations completed, including a wonderful wall mounted Timber Tarnhow canopy at Redriff Primary School and two Welford Dome Junior canopies installed at Highgate School in London. As the cold weather approaches our fitting teams are digging out their thermals to keep them warm over the next few months. Our installation slots of December and January are getting full, however if you do require an installation during this time please contact us and we will try to fit you in. We are also now booking in installations for the February half term; these are filling up fast so call us today to book your installation in.

Below are some of our top stories from the past few months including tips on protecting your outdoor sales area, how to care for you canopy in the winter months and some great outdoor play ideas.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers, (past, present and future!) a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!

Kind Regards
Mark Wood

Managing Director

Caring For Your Canopy & Tensile Structures in Extreme Weather

The Coniston Wall Mounted Canopy in the Snow in 2009It seems like the weather in the UK is becoming a little more extreme each year. There was once a time where we would be lucky to see a small snowfall, yet in the recent years we have been experiencing heavy snow that’s been causing wide spread disruption. That’s why it’s important to be alert & prepared when we have such weather warnings and ensure all outside equipment and structures are safe.


Whilst our canopy structures have been tested, and calculations have been performed, it is important to remove snow from the roof of your canopy as with any other structure you have in place. A build up of heavy snow on your canopy will cause excess strain on the structure and it is therefore advised that the snow is removed regularly. The snow can be easily removed by your care taker or handy man with a long handled broom.

Tensile Structures and Shade Sails

South Street Community Primary School in Tyne & WearIf snow is left to build up on your shade sail cloth, it can cause strain on the fixings and damage to the cloth causing it to sag due to the heavy weight of snow.

As soon as snow starts to build up, it is advised that you push a broom skywards so it hits the underneath of the cloth of your structure and pushes the snow onto the ground. Please make sure no one is standing nearby as falling snow could drop down onto them. This simple exercise can be completed by your care taker or handyman with a standard long handled broom.

A build up of heavy snow on your fabric shade structure will cause excess strain and it is therefore advised that the snow is removed regularly as explained above.

Our customer’s health and safety is of paramount importance to us, please ensure you take the necessary safety precautions when attempting to clear snow from your structure.
If you have any questions or if you are unsure about how to maintain your canopy or tensile structure in extreme weather please call us on 0800 389 9072 or email us:

Your canopy can be a valuable asset in the winter by providing extra teaching, eating or seating space or just access to some fresh air – to find out more about how to make the most of your canopy download our free How to… Get the Most out of Your Canopy Guide

How to make the most of your canopy in colder weather

Thorpe Acre Infant School - Coniston Wall Mounted Canopy for Winter Outdoor PLayAs the weather gets colder and wetter it is tempting to move all activities indoors yet the outdoors still offers so many benefits and with your canopy you can enjoy these benefits even when the weather gets more wintery!


Early Years Ideas
Here are some “under the canopy” play and learning suggestions:

Move outdoor play equipment under the canopy – if safe to do so, to allow use of equipment even in snow or ice – make sure you do an inspection before letting the children use it to ensure it’s not icy.

Natural Resources – collect leaves and twigs from around your grounds (or have parents or staff bring them from their own gardens) and have fun making collages with coloured leaves or use the leaves as stamps to create interesting designs.

Developing skills – Playing outdoors in colder weather also offers a great opportunities for children to learn about wrapping up warm and helps them develop their fine motor skills when doing up their coats and putting on scarves and gloves etc.

Primary & Secondary School Ideas:

Outdoor lessons – have pupils wrap up warm and turn the canopy into a wildlife shelter to see what wildlife is living in your playground – this could be a great introduction to lessons about hibernation and migration and also the life cycle of trees. Setting up a weather watch is another great way to use the natural resources to reinforce learning about the seasons and wind, rain and snow.

Outdoor events – A canopy also offers great outdoor cover for any events you have planned. For if you are holding a fireworks display you could serve soup, hot dogs or hot chocolate under the canopy, or even mulled cider for adults! It can also provide extra space for your Christmas fair or market –by allowing you to bring some stalls outside, such as food or drink ones.

Outdoor seating – By adding picnic tables or benches under your canopy you can create a pleasant seating area where people can get a breath of fresh air, or enjoy some alfresco dining even when it’s raining.

The Coniston Wall Mounted Canopy with Secure Roller Shutters Installed at Middlewich Primary School in Cheshire - Perfect for Winter Outdoor Play

Enhance your canopy with secure roller shutters, side fills and safety barriers – we offer a range of canopy extras to create a more enclosed space, which can offer more shelter from the wind and rain. Find out more about our canopy extras here.

To get the most out of your canopy all year round download our free How to… Get the Most out of Your Canopy guide

My Favourite Timber Tarnhow Installation So Far…

By Mark Wood, Managing Director

3 Tarnhow Dome Free Standing Canopies - Carshalton High School for Girls in SurreyThe products in our Tarnhow range are stunning timber canopies that consist of wall mounted and free standing canopies. They are constructed from curved or straight Glulam timber which has a contemporary look and is aesthetically pleasing.

At first I thought that choosing my favourite Tarnhow installation would be tough but I realised there was only one main contender when it came to it and that was…

Carshalton High School for Girls in Surrey
Carshalton High School for Girls had three Tarnhow Dome Free Standing Canopies installed in August 2013. Two of the canopies were installed with picnic tables underneath and the third one was installed on their playing field. Click here to view pictures of their students enjoying study time underneath the canopies.

3 Tarnhow Dome Free Standing Canopies - Carshalton High School for Girls in SurreyThe school was delighted wither their new timber structures and the service provided by both my office staff and my installers

It is always pleasant to hear how much our canopies are appreciated and the difference they make to the general school day. Carshalton High School for Girls are often tweeting pictures of their canopies in use such as this image on their Instagram account of their students enjoying lunch under one of their canopies.

Carole Petty the schools Business Manager said these kind words about her experience with us:
“The new timber canopies are truly special & really enhance the experience of outdoor socialising for students. I would like to comment on what an excellent job your workmen have done and what a lovely group of workers they were. If I need any further canopies I will definitely be in touch!”

3 Tarnhow Dome Free Standing Canopies - Carshalton High School for Girls in Surrey

Click here to view our timber Tarnhow canopies or click here to download our brochure to view our full canopy range:

Taking a Closer Look at Tensile Fabric Structures

Tune Hotel Group, London - Ulverston Umbrella - Able Canopies LtdThe winter is the perfect time to start planning how you can improve your outdoor play or seating area ready for the summer. Early planning is ideal as you can have everything installed and in place by the time the spring or summer arrives, ensuring maximum usage.

Although canopies are perfect for creating cover from all weather conditions, all year round, some styles are more ideal for creating shelter and shade from the sun. These structures include umbrella canopies and other smaller canopies that are covered with waterproof tensile fabric which also makes them ideal for creating a dry sheltered waiting area.

We have many tensile fabric structures in our range, all of which are permanent structures which are covered with our high quality waterproof tensile fabric including:

The Blenheim Umbrella is very popular within many sectors including primary schools, healthcare and leisure. The Blenheim is constructed from a strong steel frame and is covered with our high strength tensile fabric. The umbrella top is a square-circular shape to create a contemporary style umbrella.

Great Dunmow Primary School, Essex - Ulverstno Umbrella - Able Canopies

The Keswick Cantilever Umbrella can easily be confused with the Ulverston Umbrella however, it is cantilevered which means there is not a post in the centre of the umbrella. It is also constructed from a strong steel frame and is a popular choice within primary schools and pre-schools.

Grove Park Primary School, London - Keswick Cantilever Umbrella - Able Canopies

The Dallington Square Umbrella is the newsiest addition to our tensile fabric range. The umbrella roof is completely square with a chunky frame and will add a modern feel to any outdoor environment. As with our other umbrella structures, it is also constructed from a strong steel frame and is supported by a post in the middle similar to the Ulverston Umbrella.

Plasnewydd Primary School, South Wales - Dallington Umbrella - Able Canopies

The Codale Conic differs from the above structures as this is not an umbrella style canopy; it is a square canopy with a “big top” style roof. The Codale Conic can cover larger areas up to 6m x 6m and is supported by a strong steel frame, it is perfect for use as a covered outdoor dining area. Multiple Codal Conics can be added together to make an extra large canopy like the one we installed at Underhill Infant School in Herfordshire.

Boscombe Children's Centre, Dorset - Codale Conic - Able Canopies

The Kendal is a cantilevered walkway that is perfect for creating shelter between buildings and alongside buildings. It has a highly contemporary appearance and would fit in perfectly with new builds as well as adding a modern touch to well established buildings.

If you are still unsure of what canopy would suit your plans, whether it be tensile, timber, aluminium, polycarbonate or glass, download our Good Canopy Guide where you will find the benefits of each material explained.

Protect Your Outdoor Sales Area with a Canopy

For businesses such as Car sales, Garden Centres and Builder’s Merchants an outdoor sales area is essential to your business – giving you a large area to show your products in situ, display them fully, or simply to allow you to have more room to display your entire product range.

By installing a canopy over your outdoor area you can allow this area to be used all year round and enhance your customer’s buying or browsing experience.

Free Standing CanopyFor garden centres this area can be used for smaller plants which need sheltering, it can also be used as a display area from pots and garden ornaments. This is particularly useful when there is snow forecast, as a heavy snow fall can obscure or hide garden ornaments which are left out of cover and this can cause extra work for staff as they will need to remove all the snow from any products and also clear a safe passage through to these display areas.

With a canopy, the area underneath can easily be kept safe, dry and slip free all year round.

Builder’s merchants often have to display larger products outside and a canopy can be utilised well to protect these products from the weather, whilst also encouraging customers to venture outside even in wet or snowy weather.

A canopy over an outdoor car sales area is also a great idea as it not only protects your customers from the weather, but also protects the vehicles from rain, snow and sun damage, keeping them looking clean and shiny longer than those left exposed to the elements.

To request a free site survey and quotation for a canopy call us today 0800 389 9072
or email us

Don’t wish the winter away – get out there and play!

frozen leaves in the winter - Don’t wish the winter away – get out there and play!Outdoor play in the winter is a wonderful thing. Many of us can easily imagine that outdoor play is off limits in the winter but it’s not, there are so many more learning and play opportunities outside during the winter due to the change that the weather brings to nature.

As the leaves fall of the trees, their appearance changes and children can learn about the transformations due to the seasons and why they change for each season. The bird nests become easier to spot in the bare trees and you can see the birds flying to their nests with food and leaves to keep them warm.

The freezing temperatures also bring many play and learning opportunities for early years children as they can experiment with leaving items outdoors in water to find them frozen in the morning. They can see the different types of icicles and frost patters.

Playing in the snow - Don’t wish the winter away – get out there and play!As you can imagine, the list is almost endless when it comes to encouraging young children to explore the outdoors during the winter. I have listed just a few of the activities below that winter can bring to children’s imaginations and to encourage them to love the outdoors all year round!

  • Identify different birds and the different sounds they make
  • Create ‘bug houses’ for insects using leaves, twigs & acorns etc
  • Make bird feeders and feed the birds regularly
  • Freeze natural objects outside and see how different they look once they are frozen
  • Observe different ice and frost patterns
  • Create scrap books that show the different colours that winter brings to nature (a different scrap book can be created for each season)
  • Look under rocks and stones to find insects burrowing
  • Identify and compare different footprints in the snow
  • Collect as many different objects that have fallen off the trees such as leafs, twigs etc and taking photos of them. (This could also be done throughout each season so children can compare the different colours etc at the end of the year).

I hope this blog post has given you many ideas and inspiration for introducing learning and play outside during the winter. And remember… if you have a canopy installed, all of these activates can also be enjoyed even when it’s raining or snowing because a canopy will keep you dry and sheltered whilst you play!

Download our ‘How to… get the most out of your canopy’ guide for more ideas for playing outside in all weathers. This inspirational guide also includes free worksheets for observing how many insects and birds children can find outside.

Your Guide to a ‘Cracking’ Christmas Fair – Part 1!

Christmas Cookies - Christmas School FundraisingChristmas fairs are always popular events for schools, Christmas is a time for everyone to get together, to give and to receive and a Christmas fair helps everyone do just that! It’s also a great place for parents to buy gifts and decorations for Christmas.

Here’s checklist to get you on your way to holding a cracking Christmas fair that will lighten up the faces of your guests with joy and raise lots of ££’s for your PTA.

1. First things first – Volunteers…
Establish who would like to volunteer at the event and help with arrangements beforehand. Ask all volunteers if they have any talents that could be incorporated into the event and assign one or two volunteers to take the lead in organising the event.

2. It’s a date…
Decide on a good date – Saturdays usually work well and try to avoid booking it the same day as any other local school Christmas fairs if you can. Once you have the date you can decide on the times as well.

3. Add a sprinkle of fun with a theme…
To change things around each year you could have a theme i.e. Crafty Christmas, Winter Wonderland, A Magical Christmas or how about a traditional Christmas fair from different eras.

4. The best bits…
Look back at your previous events and note down which stalls were most successful and if there were any issues with anything. That way at this year’s fair, you can exclude the stalls that didn’t work, improve anything that went a little wrong and include the stalls that worked brilliantly, making this year’s fair event better than before!

Girl Dressed as an Angel5. Don’t forget Santa’s little helpers…
Talk to the teachers and discuss any ideas you may have of items that the children could make or personalised in class. Items made by children are often very popular as keep sakes and presents for parents to buy from the fair.

6. A time for giving…
Don’t be afraid to ask local businesses for items to add to your raffle, companies are often very happy to donate items to local good causes – partially if their children or grandchildren attend your school.

7.Spread the word…
Advertise the event well in advance; 6 weeks from the date of the event would be ideal remember to make sure parents are reminded of the event right up until the day before! Advertise at school with posters and send flyers home, advertise in local shops, on social media and on the local radio and newspaper. Whilst advertising the event at school, also ask parents if they have anything they would like to donate as raffle prizes etc.

I hope this checklist gets you on your way to a Christmas fair that will be your most successful one yet!

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If you’re looking for more ideas of stalls to hold at your fair then download our free PTA Fundraising guide which holds over 28 ideas from A right through to Z!

Walk this way – the benefits of covered walkways

bowker-vale-primary-school-lancashire-manchester-ullswater-walkway 01 smallA covered walkway can often been seen as a luxury product, particularly by schools and organisations with limited funds. This is a fair observation and it certainly is true that your site will be able to function without a walkway. However, the benefits a walkway brings to a site often far outweigh the initial cost. Not only can it link your site together, providing an integrated feel to your setting, it can also improve the experience of your staff, students, visitors or customers as they travel around your site.

Covered Walkways for Schools
Few schools have the luxury of housing all classrooms and other school facilities in one building. Often there is a multitude of buildings, particularly at secondary level, that can be spread around a large site. As the intake in many schools increases, the movement around a school during a lesson change can be chaotic even on a pleasant sunny day, but throw a heavy downpour into the mix with a large amount of children and the mad dash which ensues can cause slips and trips as well as collisions between pupils as they run for cover. Providing a covered walkway helps to ensure movement around a school site is measured and sensible, whatever the weather. Students have no cause to run during the bad weather and these areas can be used as outdoor social areas during breaks and lunch times, providing students with much needed access to fresh air to keep their brains alert and ready for learning.

Staff and visitors to your site will also welcome a more comfortable way to travel around your school. And prospective students and parents will be reassured of your concern for your pupils’ welfare.

Covered Walkways for Retail
Covered walkways are useful in any retail setting that requires outdoor product display, garden centres and car showrooms in particular can benefit from a covered area. In an outside retail environment a covered walkway can also serve as a sales device, leading your customers around your site and past particular products which you may want to highlight to them. It can also mean that customers won’t be put off from visiting your store in bad weather and can encourage them to venture outside to browse they take a more leisurely pace around your site.

Covered Walkways for Healthcare
A covered walkway can also be beneficial in a healthcare environment. It can be used as a link way between hospital, or care home, buildings, providing staff, patients and visitors with a dry journey around the site. At Able Canopies we can provide side fills to create a more enclosed walkway to make the area less exposed and more comfortable for people using the walkway.

ysgol-bryn-alyn-high-school-clwyd-wrexham-devoke-side-fills 01 small

To discuss your walkway needs or to request a free site survey and quotation call us today on 0800 389 9072

To view all of our walkways products, and lots more download our brochure:

Download our canopy shelter and shade sail brochure

Able Canopies Ltd. design, manufacture and install commercial grade canopies, shade sails,
awnings and shelters across the UK. We specialise in servicing the education, leisure,
healthcare and retail sectors and have extensive experience working with
schools, councils, architects and contracting firms.
For more information on our products and services please contact us

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