Helpers dig in to give garden a facelift

A MORPETH-BASED charity has given its garden a colourful facelift, which could land it a bloom bonus.

Pretty posies can now be seen throughout the area outside the MS Research and Relief Fund building in Stobhill thanks to a hardy group of staff and volunteers.

It was initially created about ten years ago in memory of a boy, Paul Playford, who used to come to the centre for therapy and exercise.

The site did get overgrown and a bit untidy, but the organisation agreed to give it a refurbishment after being asked by Morpeth Town Council if it wanted to be involved in its bloom bid this year.

The range of flowers, including snapdragons, primroses, daisies, lobelia, sea breeze, pansies, phlox and poppies, were also inspected by the Northumbria in Bloom judges as the charity is entered in one of the separate categories.

Donations were made by local organisations and users to help the refurbishment and the Blackadders tag rugby team from Whitley Bay have assisted by digging out shingles and pebbles — one of the players has links to the centre.

MS Research and Relief Fund Networking and Marketing Officer Sue Dowson said: “We thought it would be nice to improve the garden and help Morpeth’s bloom chances so we got in touch with Paul’s family and they gave us their blessing to do the refurbishment.

“We worked with the town council staff on what to plant and we’ve added some wildflowers to attract insects.

“We’ve received many positive comments from people who visit the centre.

“They tell us that they enjoy walking through and sometimes sitting in the pretty and colourful garden.

“It was such a pleasure to have the Northumbria and Britain in Bloom judges come to have a look at our premises and hopefully Morpeth will have another successful year in these competitions.”

Garden designer Michael Dixon donated his time to oversee the changes and five flower beds were positioned in such a way so they look like petals.

The area also includes five fruit trees and hanging baskets. There are large sandstone blocks for people to sit on and appreciate the plants and flowers.

Staff and volunteers did various tasks during their free time to get it ready such as planting, raking and watering.

Among them was the charity’s Caretaker and Personal Support Officer Stephen Brunning, who said: “We only had a small budget, so we’re very grateful to everyone who helped us out.

“It has turned out lovely and our main focus is now on maintaining the site.

“We received some flowers from The Pottergate Centre in Alnwick, which provides a day service for people with learning disabilities, and it has recently told us that it will be happy to get involved with the garden next year.

“Our users enjoy spending time in the area on a warm day as it has a calming effect.”