Ancaster station garden blooms with help of schoolchildren

In the new garden at Ancaster railway station are, from left, Jon Moody of Sustrans, Stephen Cooke (Railway John's son) and Lynda Awcock from Ancaster Primary School.
In the new garden at Ancaster railway station are, from left, Jon Moody of Sustrans, Stephen Cooke (Railway John's son) and Lynda Awcock from Ancaster Primary School.
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Passengers have a new garden to admire as they come and go at Ancaster railway station.

The garden, created by pupils of Ancaster Primary School, was officially unveiled on Friday.

Pupils helped to grow plants for the garden in a poly tunnel donated by AFS Dean Farms, before a group of volunteers from Lincolnshire County Council, Sustrans and East Midlands Trains repainted the fencing, cleaned the shelters and signage, and cleared overgrown ivy to make sure the station was in top condition for opening day.

The project was led by Jon Moody from Sustrans. He said: “Collaborating with Ancaster Primary School on this project has, as ever, proven to be very rewarding. The school management and staff are hugely responsive and the children similarly engaged and enthusiastic.

“However, perhaps the most impressive part of this scheme has been the engagement with the local community, from the positive commentary of passers-by to active involvement as volunteers.

“The whole school community has fully immersed itself in this project but the drive and expertise of one particular staff member, Lynda Awcock, has been pivotal. Mrs Awcock has not only co-ordinated the design and execution of the project but sought out and engaged with several funding streams and inspired the children to hold plant and produce sales to make the project financially sustainable. She has liaised closely with teaching staff to create a series of exciting and fully facilitated learning opportunities meaning that all children have the chance to make use of the garden project as a valuable resource.

“Perhaps most excitingly for me, the project that we have created in conjunction with Ancaster Primary is very easily replicable in many schools throughout the region.”

The garden is dedicated to ‘Railway John’, who tended the former garden on a daily basis before he passed away. His son, Stephen Cooke, was there to cut the ribbon along with the children and other locals who have been involved.

Kaye Robinson, community rail partnership officer, added: “The children and volunteers have made a fantastic job of the new garden. It is a haven for insects, protecting the local wildlife, and the school is using it to teach their pupils about nature. Locals can also take produce that is grown there. I’m sure it will prove a real asset to the local community.”

The garden recently gained a bronze award from the Association of Community Rail Partnerships, while the school has earned Royal Horticultural Society awards for its work.

Executive headteacher Sam Eden said: “Ancaster Church of England Primary School are extremely proud to have adopted the train station and help facilitate this wonderful project. It is absolutely wonderful to see the garden come to life and see the wider community engage with the excellent work which has taken place to ensure that our village has a community garden to be truly proud of.”

Donna Adams, stakeholder and community rail manager for East Midlands Trains, added: “This is a great example of so many local people and businesses coming together for the benefit of their community and it’s fantastic that we can play a part in this. We are certain that our customers will enjoy the area that the primary school has created. It is also such an honour that this project has been recognised in the ACoRP Community Rail Awards in the ‘It’s Your Station’ category.”

The commercial sponsors were Alison Plant, AFS Dean Farms and Subway.