Green fingered volunteer thanked for dedicated service

A gardening project volunteer has been thanked for his 13 years of dedicated service.

Colin Stafford, 67, helps out at Hepscott Park Horticultural Skills Unit (HSU), working with adults with learning disabilities on various horticultural tasks.

The former binman has shared his skills in all kinds of work, from planting flowers to weaving a willow fence.

Mr Stafford, who also volunteers at Sleekburn Horticultural Training Unit, said: “After I finished working with the council as a binman in 1989 I tried my hand at lots of different jobs. I really enjoy working outdoors and one day I decided that I’d like to give volunteering a go.

“I’ve been a volunteer working with people with special needs at the HSU for 13 years now. Being able to pass on the skills and experience I’ve learnt in horticulture over the years to others is a really rewarding feeling.

“I’d encourage anyone to find the time to volunteer because it will be the best thing you’ll ever do.”

The HSU is run by Northumberland County Council, providing work for up to 50 adults a week. It specialises in propagation of plants for sale and service users grow their own plants and supply fresh ingredients to the Hepscott Park Garden Cafe.

There are 12 part-time staff so the contribution of volunteers is a huge help.

Service manager Clive Moon said: “We have welcomed volunteers to Hepscott Park since we first opened the service in 1985. We need people who are able to make a regular commitment and who have a natural ability to build relationships with adults with learning difficulties – people like Colin.

“Colin has made a huge contribution since he started as a volunteer. We would all like to say a big thank-you to Colin for dedicating his time over the years.”

For more information about the unit call 01670 514255 or visit