Kirkby students dig their way to success

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STUDENTS who came up with a way to help elderly people look after their gardens are celebrating after being named as finalists in a national competition.

The young people, who attend Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber Training programme at Ashfield School, developed the Spade Aid service, which is aimed at Ashfield Homes tenants who may need help maintaining their gardens.

They went on to be named finalists in the Best Community Initiative in this year’s National Federation of Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) awards.

Ashfield Homes in one of 60 ALMOs in the UK which manage council housing in England.

Student Scott Hunter is taking part in the Chamber’s 39 Steps course, which helps students make choices about their future and career options.

He said: “I really liked being outside and working in a team, so we got things done really quickly.

“I’ve never done any gardening before, but now I’ve tried it out I really like it, and it feels good to help people.

“When I’ve finished my 39 Steps course, I want to go to college and learn to be a bricklayer. The extra voluntary work I did with Ashfield Homes and the 39 Steps programme has given me the confidence to do this.”

Volunteers began by looking after five gardens two years ago and this has now grown to around 20.

Kelly Scott, who is assistant director of housing services for Ashfield Homes, said: “The students have made a real difference to some of our tenants’ lives and working in partnership with Ashfield School and Chamber Training has definitely been beneficial to everyone particularly the community of Ashfield.”

For details on the Chamber’s training schemes contact 01246 212519 or email