Green fingered veterans rewarded for gardening lockdown project

Veterans living at Launchpad’s Avondale House have been recognised for their hard work during lockdown after winning a prize at this year’s ‘Byker in Bloom’ gardening competition.

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Two of the residents volunteered to tidy the front of the house clearing bushes and weeding and then planting up planters and gravel adding colour and making it appealing and even easier to maintain.

The materials were purchased from donations raised at the 75th VE Day celebration events, which took place on the Estate in May where residents baked cakes.

The annual gardening competition was created by Byker councillors and is supported and funded through the Byker ward committee. It is partly funded and delivered by the committee and Byker Community Trust (BCT) housing association, which owns and manages homes on the Byker Estate.

The free-to-enter competition encourages all residents living in the Byker ward to enter their colourful garden creations with categories including prettiest balcony, most creative backyard, best newcomer, innovation in a front garden and lockdown project.

This year, a new category was included with additional funding support from Newcastle City Council’s Arts Development team and provided by Northern Cultural Projects. Judging was supported by Urban Green and RHS volunteer.

Prizes of shopping vouchers are awarded for first, second and third places.

Sam Hughes, Assistant Manager Projects at Avondale House, said:

“I am really proud of our residents who took it upon themselves to look after and maintain the front of house. The transformation is amazing and I think it’s great that they have been recognised for their efforts.

“Gardening not only gets our residents outdoors and into the fresh air but it also helps with their mental health and wellbeing.”

Councillor Veronica Dunn, said:

“We would like to thank everyone who entered a garden or green space in the competition this year. Despite all the challenges of the Covid 19 pandemic, we have been overwhelmed by the response to this year’s event and the standard of the spaces the judges have visited.

“We are very grateful for this opportunity to see your gardens and acknowledge the care and effort that goes in to help to keep Byker ‘in Bloom’. Well done to all the winners and everyone else who entered.”

Avondale House comprises 32 self-contained one-bedroom flats and residents are supported to help them make a successful transition from military to civilian life. Since 2013, the charity, which also has a house in Speke, Liverpool, has supported 474 veterans. 42% of residents left Launchpad with jobs and 69% successfully moved on to settled accommodation, either living independently, reunited with family or with the support they needed.

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