From Anna Morell, Archbishop's Media Officer / Swyddog y Cyfryngau i'r Archesgob
The Princess Royal visited a city church today (Wed) to plant a tree in its new community garden.
Princess Anne met the vicar of St Peter’s Church, Fairwater, Cardiff, and some of the many volunteers who have transformed an acre of scrub land around the church into a vibrant garden for the whole community.
She planted a Welsh Denbigh Plum tree in the orchard, donated by the Woodland Trust as part of its Jubilee Woods Project, marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
She was also presented with a tree and a celebration folder about the garden by pupils from Fairwater Primary School which borders the garden.
More than 15 local organisations have come together over the past three years to transform the site. Teams of parishioners, young offenders, people with learning disabilities and children from the neighbouring school dug out a jungle of briars and brambles and chopped down trees to create a haven of peace which includes a lawn, pond, vegetable patch and mini Welsh heritage orchard. All the work has been done by hand, rather than machine and between them they have clocked up 836 hours of work, helping to keep costs down to less than £15,000.
The Princess toured the garden and met people from some of the groups involved, including Sbectrwm – young people with learning needs – and Cardiff Youth Offending Service.
The garden was the vision of parishioner Ian Thompson who was appointed project manager by the vicar, Father Colin Sutton.
Father Colin said, “We are delighted to welcome Princess Anne to our garden – she is the first Royal to visit Fairwater in more than 50 years and I’m pleased that this community project has been recognised by her.
“Our involvement with the volunteers has been an essential part of the project which is as much about people as the grounds. We have been able to reach out into both the local and wider community through them. Everyone will reap the benefits as they enjoy this peaceful space and respond to the continuing opportunity to care for and develop the garden and natural habitat.”
Ian said, “All those who have worked hard on this project have come together under one roof today to meet the Princess and that makes me very proud. Any community project can only work if the community wants it to and this has been hugely successful, building up trust and respect between all the different groups.
“There’s something very special about seeing people get involved in a project like this and developing the self confidence and self esteem that come with it. The garden is enjoyed by the whole community including the primary school next door. It offers people a quiet haven of peace in the midst of the city, the beauty of the countryside that many of its users would simply not enjoy otherwise.”
Father Colin stressed the Royal visit would not mark the end of the project. He said, “There is still plenty to do. The volunteers have been busy planting a thousand Welsh daffodil bulbs, so in Springtime the grounds will be ablaze with colour. Our Welsh heritage trees and meadow have just been planted and the meadow flower circle is the next task, along with preparing the ground for the hedging from the Woodland Trust.
“The transformation of the grounds is the first part of our dual project which includes the complete refurbishment of our Community Hall to renew its life and so make it available to a larger cross section of the local and wider community.”