Sitting pretty on new benches

Jeannie Kielty, development relations co-ordinator at the Banks Group, with two members of the Ellington Allotment Association sitting on one of the new benches.
Jeannie Kielty, development relations co-ordinator at the Banks Group, with two members of the Ellington Allotment Association sitting on one of the new benches.

Green-fingered users of a Northumberland community project will be able to sit back and enjoy their work more easily thanks to a grant from a regional employer.

The Ellington Allotment Association manages a site off Lynemouth Road in the village that contains 40 plots – all of which are used by local residents to grow a range of fruit, vegetables and flowers.

The allotments were opened last year after the completion of work by a dedicated group of volunteers to transform a piece of land formally owned by Rio Tinto and gifted to the association by Ellington and Linton Parish Council into its present form.

And now gardeners, residents and passers-by will be able to sit and enjoy the scene after a £750 grant from the Banks Group, via its Banks Community Fund, paid for the purchase of three high-quality wooden benches that have been placed around the site.

Eight raised beds have been installed to allow older or disabled gardeners to have a piece of land to work, a small number of which are currently available, and a sensory garden has also been created to encourage even more members of the community to visit the site.

Susan Clark, secretary and treasurer at Ellington Allotment Association, said: “A huge amount of work went into getting the land for the allotments and then making it fit for purpose, but the outcome has already made it more than worthwhile.

“The allotments are always busy, especially at weekends, and because we’re within the village, everyone has the chance to see what’s happening, talk to the gardeners and maybe even sample some of the produce that’s being grown here.

“Adding in raised beds for older or disabled gardeners meant that the project was accessible to the widest cross-section of the local population that we could achieve and we’re excited to see how things will develop as the site matures in the years to come.

“As a relatively new organisation, we don’t have the money in the bank available at the moment to make purchases like these benches, so we’re very grateful to the Banks Group for its support. We know they will be very well used.”

The association was named as runner-up in the Best Urban Project category of the 2015 LOVE Northumberland Awards.

Any spare produce grown at the allotments, all of which are currently occupied, is given away by the gardeners to local residents, neighbours and passers-by.

Jeannie Kielty, development relations co-ordinator at the Banks Group, said: “This is a fantastic project that’s come a huge distance in a very short time and makes a great contribution towards building real community spirit across the village, so we’re very pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to its continuing development.”

Community groups and voluntary organisations interested in applying for money from the Banks Community Fund should call James Eaglesham on 0191 3786342.