Magic and fairy lights as teenagers create amazing garden for older people in Hebburn

Caring teenagers have creating a magical garden to help older people enjoy an outdoor space at their home.

The volunteers, all aged between 15 and 17, fundraised to buy paint, tools, solar lighting, and plants then got to work making it all happen at Willowdene Care Home in Victoria Road West, Hebburn.

The young people decided to take on the project as part of their National Citizenship Service (NCS) with Sunderland AFC’s Foundation of Light.

Over several gardening sessions, they cleared out weeds, painted raised planters and pots, revamped the garden furniture, and installed a “Bee Happy” rainbow plaque.

What a great job they did.

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They then created the sensory garden using a variety of herbs and flowers, including thyme, lavender, sage, and dahlias, which residents can cut for vases for use inside the care home.

The teens also placed solar lighting around the garden to provide illumination at night, much to the enjoyment of the residents, who have already been making use of their revamped outdoor space.

Linda Whiting, 59, said: “It’s like a fairy garden with all the twinkly lights.”

Alfred Clark, 84, said: “This bunch work really hard for their age. I’m surprised we got them here for nowt.

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(from left) Willowdene Care Home resident Jen Black, 74, carer Andrea Bennet and (right) carer Rhiannon Jack making jewellery with a member of the Foundation of Light NCS.

“What they’ve achieved in the time they’ve been here is astonishing.”

Claire Wade, activities coordinator at Willowdene Care Home, said: “We discussed the garden with residents and they told us they’d like lots of bright flowers, as well as fruit and vegetables.

“We thought it would be even better to have a full-on sensory garden, so we approached the Foundation of Light for their help.

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“The residents were very surprised the youngsters worked so hard and that they had done all the fundraising for the project themselves.”

Willowdene Care Home resident Harry Tweddle, 68, with one of the sensory garden flower beds created by students from Sunderland AFC’s Foundation of Light National Citizenship Service.

While carrying out the work in the garden, several of the NCS volunteers took time out to play games with residents, such as dominoes, and take part in an arts and crafts session making jewellery.

Alfred said: “You’re cracking players. I wish you could be here all the time to play dominoes with us all.”

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One student also put on two performances of Irish Dancing, for residents on the residential and dementia suites.

Linda said: “He’s amazing. I wish I could still do things like that.”

Chris Hogan-Hind, home manager at Willowdene Care Home, said: “We’d like to say a massive thank you to the young people from the Foundation of Light NCS for everything they did to revitalise our garden and create a sensory area.

“Residents’ eyes lit up when they spent time with the young people. It was wonderful to see how they interacted with the residents, chatting, and getting to know one another.”

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Craig Martin, NCS manager for the Foundation of Light, said: “The NCS programme allows teenagers in the local area to truly show the power of youth and how important they are to our future.

“Not only were they incredibly resourceful raising funds but creative and influential in the way they used the money.

“They put so much thought into the needs of the people they were helping and myself and the NCS team are so proud of each and every one of their contributions.”