Lightwoods Park helps Bearwood to Bloom

Richard Marshall with Roger Spencer and Darren Kitson, local volunteers who planted up the planters

This year’s Bearwood in Bloom is bigger and better than ever with more businesses, organisations and volunteers joining in than ever before to make Bearwood’s shopping areas so much more attractive and pleasing to the eye.

Traders Association Chair Richard Marshall said: “There are 15 main planters around the town with each one being unique.  This year’s tubs are in an array of colours and styles, including a jubilee inspired union flag, herbs, spices and even some vegetables donated by the Bearwood Allotment Society, which are free to pick for all. Thanks to all the Traders, the Mental Health Vocational Services and the Lightwoods Park Horticultural Team, who all supported the initiative”.

Sandwell MBC Mental Health Vocational and Employment Service provides support to people with Mental Health problems who need support in their preparation for work.  Its Horticulture project which has recently relocated to Lightwoods Park, provides opportunities for people to gain such skills as plant propagation and garden maintenance, as well as qualifications and experience that can be used to help people gain employment.

The resilience of the project was recently tested by torrential rain and an urgent demand to produce the large floral displays for Bearwood in Bloom, which it completed successfully through the support of 3 volunteers (Ian Sloan, Darren Kidson and Sarah Phillips) and staff (Tina Cundy and Neil Humpage) from the service. Graeme O’ Malley, Employment Development Manager for Sandwell MBC, stated, “The effort and contribution from volunteers and staff to get the job done was tremendous. Their commitment, even when heavily rained upon, was unphased and they completed the work on time. This bodes well for the Horticulture project at Lightwoods Park and showcases that people with a mental health problem can, with the right support, work successfully.”

The Horticulture project would like to acknowledge the kind plant and flower donations from B&Q and Homebase. The most notable difference this year is the addition of the wooden surrounds which have been made up at cost price by Rutland Sheds with money donated by Sandwell MBC and Bearwood Traders.

The horticultural training centre move to Lightwoods Park is just one element of the planned improvements for the park.  Sandwell MBC, with consultants and the Friends of Lightwoods Park and House are currently working up detailed designs for the £4.1miilion heritage lottery funded parks for people project under which the park landscape and the impressive Lightwoods House will be restored.

The plans will be made available for comment in October this year and a number of consultation events will be taking place before Sandwell Council submit the plans to the lottery in February 2013.  Anyone wishing to find out more about this project can contact Cherie O’Sullivan, Lightwoods Park Project Officer, on 0121 569 4740.

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