Banks Group grant helps memorial garden blossom

November 7, 2011 | Community News

A residents’ group in a County Durham village suburb has set up a new community resource with help from a local developer’s grant.

Members of the Haughton Residents Association near Darlington have created a memorial garden where local people can remember loved ones with a plaque, take time to reflect or simply enjoy sitting quietly within beautiful surroundings.

The Haughton Memorial Garden, which is now almost complete, has taken four years to create and will be open for use by all residents, regardless of faith.

It is bordered by St Andrew’s churchyard and the River Skerne, and contains five large arch seats and a circular seat around an oak tree.

To help support the completion of the project, local firm The Banks Group has given the Residents Association a grant of £7,008, via its Banks Community Fund, which has been used to fund the purchase of a range of trees, hedges, seating and plants.

Mrs Denise Parkin, chair of Haughton Residents Association, says: “When we began our residents group, it was with the ambition to be genuinely useful to everyone in this community.

“The vicar of St Andrew’s Church made us aware of the need for a new memorial garden, not just for his church, but also for Haughton’s other two churches and the wider community.

“The church’s current memorial garden is now full, and the nearest available space for interring ashes or remembering loved ones is at the West Cemetery, which is at the other end of town and therefore difficult for many elderly residents to visit.

“There was some suitable land owned by the council next to the church and we saw an opportunity to help.”

The new garden is sited on a plot which previously housed a church school which was demolished in the 1980s, and the schoolyard wall has been retained to provide a setting for plaques in memory of loved ones.

Denise continues: “We are so proud to have created a memorial garden which anyone can use, and which we believe will provide solace for people of any faith or none.

 “It’s a beautiful place, with wonderful colour provided by the rose bushes and geraniums, and the fact that it’s alongside the river and a wildlife area just adds to the calming atmosphere.

 “We’re already looking forward to seeing the trees and hedges developing, and are extremely grateful for the support we’ve had from Banks in bringing them here – their contribution will make a real difference to the garden for decades to come.”

Banks is the company behind plans for the recently-approved Moor House wind farm, which will be sited on land to the north east of Darlington, around three miles to the east of the A1.

A new community benefits fund will be made available once the wind farm is fully operational, offering £375,000 of funding over the 25-year lifetime of the scheme for local community groups, environmental and voluntary projects, in order to provide further tangible long-term benefits for the community from Banks’ presence there.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, says: “Our development with care approach means that we can deliver lasting local community and environmental benefits in the areas around our developments through our community fund.  We admire the effort and dedication of the Residents Association in creating this beautiful memorial garden, and we’re delighted to be able to contribute to its completion.

“It will be an important resource for everyone in this community for many years to come and will provide a quiet area of reflection, well away from the distractions of everyday life.”

Projects, community groups, or organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact Clare Johnson at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.

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