Real troopers clean it all up

This Is Wiltshire: Cricklade Children’s Centre presents a thank you card to members of the Army who helped clear the centre’s garden. Sgt John Bennett and Private Matthew Hughes with play worker Liz Baker and children Penny Hutchings and Oliver Green Cricklade Children’s Centre presents a thank you card to members of the Army who helped clear the centre’s garden. Sgt John Bennett and Private Matthew Hughes with play worker Liz Baker and children Penny Hutchings and Oliver Green

TODDLERS at the Cricklade Children’s Centre thanked soldiers from South Cerney for revamping their garden yesterday.

The team who cleared out, weeded and pruned the garden at the site on Bath Road in November returned to the centre to receive a hand-made thank you card from the children.

The team, from 80 Squadron 29 Regiment, had called the centre up last year to see if they needed any work done as part of their work in the local communities.

Liz Baker, a play worker at the centre, said: “They last came here at the end of November to clear out the garden.

“We’d been finding it really hard to get volunteers in to do the garden, and they got in contact with us.

“We provided them with the bits and pieces and they cut down the weeds and all the ivy that had overgrown the whole garden.

“It was an early Christmas present.”

The garden had become desperately overgrown, so the soldiers were tasked with making it suitable for the children to play in once again. Denise Fletcher, welcome administrator at the Children’s Centre, said: “We were over the moon when they rang us because we have desperately been trying to look for volunteers to help us in the garden.

“They all worked really hard and it looks fantastic.

“The children have the option to use the garden every day, so it’s great it’s been cleared out and they can get out there more.

“I think it’s nice that they also wanted to interact with the children, they could have left straight after the presentation but they didn’t, they stayed for a while.”

The children at the centre worked together to make a thank you card, featuring a handmade hedgehog, complete with before and after pictures of the garden.

Sergeant John Bennett, who led the team doing the work in the garden, was surprised that the children had made a card for them.

He said: “Our commanding officer wanted us to go out to the villages in the area around South Cerney and give something back to the communities.

“We did up the garden here and we also did some work at the Marie Curie charity shop.

“I was amazed when I saw the state of the garden, the ivy had taken over everything.

“I was really touched when we came back and found that they wanted to say thank you.”

Jo Green and her 21-month-old son Oliver are from Ashton Keynes but use the centre in Cricklade. Both were delighted with the work that has been done to the garden.

Jo, 38, said: “It’s brilliant. It’s great that they wanted to come and do this in the community in their spare time and it’s good for the children too to meet them.”

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