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Volunteers transform Beccles childrens garden

PUBLISHED: 09:31 01 December 2009 | UPDATED: 08:56 01 August 2010

Mark Sanderson (front), Suffolk's assistant chief fire officer, with children at Beccles children's home and (from left) chief fire officer Andy Fry, county councillor Graham Newman and home manager Serena Emberley.

Mark Sanderson (front), Suffolk's assistant chief fire officer, with children at Beccles children's home and (from left) chief fire officer Andy Fry, county councillor Graham Newman and home manager Serena Emberley.

Hayley Mace

Armed with spades, trowels and piles of plants, dozens of volunteers proved that people power can make a big difference as they transformed the garden at a children's home this weekend.

Armed with spades, trowels and piles of plants, dozens of volunteers proved that people power can make a big difference as they transformed the garden at a children's home this weekend.

About 40 volunteers, including firefighters, staff from Suffolk County Council and workers from the local Tesco supermarket, spent two days in Beccles redesigning and improving the outdoor space at the town's children's home.

Using materials donated by local businesses, the volunteers created a relaxation space for the home's staff, a new pond and nature area and extensive play facilities for the seven children who live there.

Part of the large grass area has been transformed into a wooden assault course, complete with tyre run and balance ropes, and there is even a zip wire running along one side of the garden next to a five-a-side football pitch.

The nature area has a pond, new plants and a bird feeder, complete with a tiny camera which is linked to the television indoors so that the children, who are all aged between eight and 13 and come from all over Suffolk, can find out which species are enjoying their new garden.

Suffolk's assistant chief fire officer Mark Sanderson, who was one of several firefighters helping with the project, said: “We are very keen to get out into the community and help out, so we chose the children's home because we thought we would be able to make the garden more enjoyable for the children.

“The whole project has been about improving the health and wellbeing of the youngsters. We've even put in some raised beds so they can grow their own vegetables and then watch them be cooked in the kitchen and turned into healthy meals.

“We've had about 40 volunteers here, which has been great. It's brilliant to see that once someone has a spark of inspiration, there are so many people willing to give up their time to get involved.”

Children's home manager Serena Emberley said: “To have all this space but with so little to do in it was a real shame, so all the new equipment and areas of interest will make a huge difference. We would not have had the budget or time to do all this ourselves.

“The generosity of local people and businesses has been phenomenal and the staff and children really appreciate everybody's efforts.”

Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, said: “This shows what can be achieved when everyone comes together, and it is a great example of how people can get involved with projects in their local community.

“Local hotels have even let our volunteers stay overnight for a reduced rate, so it's nice to see that even in tough times, businesses have stepped up to help by offering materials and machinery.”

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