A THRIVING Morpeth gardening group is plotting more outings after picking up new funding.
The Bloomers Garden Club was set up by Northumberland County Blind Association to provide an extra social activity for blind and partially-sighted people.
The group tends the association’s sensory garden at its Low Stanners headquarters and cultivates an allotment to grow fruit and vegetables.
Now Rio Tinto has provided cash from its Lynemouth Smelter Community Fund to ensure the club can continue providing vital transport for its members.
The £480 grant will mean the gardeners can attend their meetings and listen to horticultural speakers, as well as enjoy regular outings to gardening venues and visit centres to buy seeds and equipment.
Volunteer John Anderson, who approached the company for support, said: “Being visually impaired can lead to personal isolation. Many of our members find it difficult to get out of their homes and take part in activities sighted people take for granted.
“Bloomers isn’t just informative, it’s also a very sociable activity, giving members contact with other people, physical exercise and companionship.
“Just being in a garden can make you feel good and with Rio Tinto’s support we can continue to run the club and hopefully attract more members.”
Bloomers’ member Alan Dixon was delighted with the support offered to the group.
“Gardening has kept me on my toes and given me something to do,” he said.
“I have made lots of friends and picked up tips from other people who have gone blind or who have been blind all their lives, it’s amazing. If our growing skills are successful we intend to sell some of our produce in order to buy more materials in future.
“I’d like to thank Rio Tinto for supporting the club.”
Rio Tinto Regional Economic Development Assistant Joanne Hannay said: “Bloomers is a fantastic club whose volunteers work hard to enhance the lives of blind and visually-impaired people by providing them with a social outlet through the joy of gardening.”
The company has also announced a £60,000 donation to WATbus Community Transport scheme through its Legacy Fund. The money will allow the charity to upgrade its ageing minibus fleet and computer systems to continue serving community groups, youth clubs, the elderly, disabled, people on low incomes and those in isolated communities across Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Gateshead.
A further grant of £4,400 was given to Woodhorn Narrow Gauge Railway.
For further information about the legacy fund visit www.rtlynemouth.co.uk