23 Jul 2019

Students give back through gardening

Royal Wootton Basset students with resident Irene (second from right) and GreenSquare community officer Jeanette (first from right)
  • Student Matthew and teacher Zoe
  • Sixth-form students hard at work

Sixth-form students from Royal Wootton Bassett Academy gave mini-makeovers to the gardens at two of GreenSquare’s housing schemes for older people this week (23 July).

12 pupils turned up bright and early at the first of the housing schemes, John Watson House, and got started clearing flower beds, replanting, weeding and restoring garden benches. 

Busy repainting one of the garden benches was student Kira, aged 17, who’s aiming to be a doctor in paediatrics. Speaking on the day she said: “I like helping the community, they have done a lot for us as a younger generation, so it’s good to give something back. I’ve helped at places like this before and really love it. The older residents are so kind and enjoy being sociable with us.”

Matthew, also aged 17, is an aspiring Royal Marine: “I’m enjoying being able to get stuck in,” he said, helping dig over a flower bed. “That’s why I chose this project because it’s hard work, it’s hands-on and you can really see where we’re helping. I think the residents will enjoy the garden when it’s all finished and looks nicer.”

GreenSquare manage housing schemes for people aged 55 years across Wiltshire and also in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. Residents live independently at the schemes, with support from housekeepers and community officers if needed.

Irene, 80, is a resident at John Watson House and has lived there for four years. She was on hand to provide the students with cakes and refreshments. “I think it’s really nice that they’re here. They are working very hard,” she said. “It is important that they get a chance to see what goes on and other people’s lives. I love gardening myself, I’ve got a little patch by my apartment which I look after, watering and pulling up weeds.”

After a well-deserved lunch the students then spent the afternoon at nearby Springfield House, where they put up hanging baskets, painted bike hooks and did more planting and weeding.

Teachers Jane Richmond and Zoe Markham-Lee from Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, also came along to work with the students. “Our sixth form students signed up to take part in different community-based projects this week. I think it is important for our local area and really good for the students to get to know other people and make links,” said Zoe. 

“It is a different type of learning, we’re all communicating and being active. Many of them walk past here on the way to school, so I think it will be great for them to be able to see the difference they’ve made.”

More information about GreenSquare’s housing schemes for over 55s is available on the website.

You can see the students at work in the short video below: