Volunteers root out youths’ destruction
5:30am Saturday 10th May 2014 in By Elizabeth Mackley
Buy this photo Kate Henery (in red) with Nationwide volunteers. Picture: THOMAS KELSEY
HREOD Burna Urban Forest welcomed a team of volunteers from Nationwide yesterday to help repair trees trashed by vandals last month.
Around 20 newly-planted trees at the site in Gorse Hill were ripped up by the roots, had their rabbit guards torn off and were broken by youths on April 27.
The damage was caused only two months after 1,000 trees were planted by volunteers, including Scouts, in February.
Yesterday, a team of 10 volunteers from the Swindon-based building society turned out to help repair the damage to the trees and pledge to plant a further 20 in September.
Stephen Uden, head of citizenship at Nationwide, said: “We were shocked to hear about the vandalism of the Urban Forest, a great local initiative which brings so many parts of the community together.
“However, it is always inspiring to see how the community responds to challenges like this, and it’s great to see so many Nation-wide employees coming forward to help put right the damage caused last week.
“I can also pledge today that Nationwide will replant the 20 trees destroyed by the vandals.”
The forest is on the site of the former allotments at Pickards Small Field and Kembrey Grass, which was threatened to be lost to housing in 2012, shortly after the Hreod Burna Urban Forest group was founded.
One of the group’s trustees and the treasurer, Kate Henery, was pleased that Nationwide had come along to help.
The 46-year-old from Gorse Hill said: “It’s fantastic, and the more people that talk about it and come along to have a look the better because it is a community project and it will raise awareness.
“It is just a shame that Nationwide only knew about it because of something bad happening.
“People come here to enjoy the space and to walk and to relax and to play.”
Lyn Forrester, who manages the environmental strand of the citizenship team at Nationwide, was one of the building society’s green champions who came along to do the repairs.
She said: “Nationwide encourages us to spend two days each year on volunteering, and when we read about this in the newspaper it just seemed a good opportunity to give something back to the community and to the environment.”
Last month the Hreod Burna Urban Forest group achieved charitable status, and its first annual meeting will take place on Wednesday at the Gorse Hill Community Centre.