Volunteers transform overgrown Ollerton churchyard into community garden

An overgrown Ollerton churchyard has blossomed into a beautiful community garden thanks to a band of green-fingered volunteers.

The patch of land at St Paulinus’ Church, New Ollerton, has been transformed into a stunning green space, with flowers, seating and a water feature.

And volunteers who created the garden are encouraging villagers and visitors to enjoy the fruits of their labour after an official opening ceremony.

The Rev Richard Hanford, new priest-in-charge of the Parish of Ollerton with Boughton, blessed the garden, which has involved students from The Dukeries Academy, Whinney Lane, New Ollerton, and features mosaic tiles made by pupils at the nearby The Parkgate Academy.

From left, Coun Mike Pringle, the Rev Richard Hanford, John Pearson and Coun Tom Smith in the garden.

Volunteer John Pearson kick-started the project to revamp the abandoned vegetable plot two years ago.

He said: “We had grass six-feet high when we first started.

“It’s not a big space but it’s a friendly space and it’s quiet and it’s peaceful – and people like that.

“It’s somewhere where they can come and, as we keep saying, just be yourself.”

The community garden at St Paulinus' Church, New Ollerton.

Now volunteers hope the garden will become a social space and a venue for small events while allowing people to grow their own produce.

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‘Tremendous work’

The group is also working with mental health charity Nottinghamshire MIND to expand the garden and provide a ‘listening ear’ space for anybody who needs professional help.

Staff and pupils from Parkgate Academy in the garden.

Coun Tom Smith is vice-chairman of Nottinghamshire Council’s communities committee, which approved £1,700 funding for the garden from its local improvement scheme.

He said: “The garden looks absolutely fantastic and the tremendous work carried out by John and his team means residents now have somewhere to go and enjoy, while it also provides a social opportunity to build a sense of community and belonging.”

The Unite Community Union, Newark & Sherwood Council, Edwinstowe and the Dukeries Lions Club, the Rotary Club of Sherwood and the Freemasons of Bassetlaw also contributed funds to the £8,000 overhaul.

Residents donated plants, funds and time to the garden.

Coun Mike Pringle, county council member for Ollerton, said: “John, himself, is an incredible human being and throughout the pandemic has done brilliantly at bringing this all together for us.”

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