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Shakespeare-inspired garden takes shape for youngsters in UK’s City of Horti-Culture

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Shakespeare-inspired garden takes shape for youngsters in UK’s City of Horti-Culture

A derelict patch of land is being transformed into a dream garden inspired by one of Shakespeare’s best-known sonnets thanks to one west Hull school.

As part of its City of Culture celebrations, Sirius Academy West is transforming an abandoned mini-wilderness, off Boothferry Road, into a garden which will take inspiration from Shakespeare’s 18th sonnet, which famously asks “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?”

The Hull City Council-owned land, which is close to the academy, has been overgrown for more than a decade but now plans are underway to turn it into a space where youngsters from Sirius’s sister school Ganton, for children with learning difficulties, can go to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of an English country garden.

To start the transformation a team of 18 volunteers from communications provider KCOM stepped in last week (Fri, Feb 23) to clear the land, abandoning ultrafast broadband for the day in favour of strimmers, rakes and chainsaws.

Teacher Pete Rhodes, director of employment and lifestyle at Sirius, said he was delighted to welcome KCOM to the project.

He said: “The council offered us this bit of land behind Netherton Road that’s been overgrown for many years and asked us if we could do anything with it.

“We thought, with this being the City of Culture year, it would be a great idea to collaborate with Ganton School and create something special with a nod to culture – and what’s more cultural than Shakespeare?

“When KCOM asked if there was anything they could help us with we thought this would be the perfect match, so I’m delighted to see everyone here today armed with clippers and saws and rotavators all making a difference.

“The main plan today is to clear out all the weeds and overgrown vegetation that’s taken over the area and to create a blank canvas. What will be here eventually will be a grove of trees, some flowerbeds and a bench where the youngsters can come and enjoy the peaceful surroundings in a beautiful garden, which will be designed by Sirius students.

“The team have been absolutely fantastic, they’ve done all the heavy lifting that will make the next steps possible for us.

“We’re really grateful that they have chosen to come from all over the country to help today. What they’re doing really will make a difference to a lot of kids, so it’s a heartfelt thanks for everything KCOM’s done.”

During the day, the volunteers cleared the 80ft by 30ft patch of land of neck-high weeds, rocks bushes and brambles, preparing it for the next stage of its transformation when it will be landscaped.

Eryl Stafford, KCOM’s director of engineering operations, said getting involved in the local community is essential part of what the company does.

For the event volunteers had travelled from as far afield as Hemel Hempstead, Wakefield and even Brighton – as well as from KCOM’s Hull offices – to take part.

Mr Stafford, said: “KCOM is part of the community here in Hull and East Yorkshire and it’s great to be able to contribute like this. When we were looking for a project we could get involved in, this seemed like an ideal way to get our people involved and help out a great organisation at the same time.

“Not only do events like these benefit the community, but they’re also a great chance for us to get out of the office and to get to know our colleagues better in a non-work environment.”

Volunteer Simon Treweek, KCOM’s head of service operations, said: “It’s been a fabulous day, you get a real sense of achievement from seeing what it was like before and seeing it now.

“I’ll be honest, when I first saw the area I thought ‘Oh wow, we’ve not got a chance of getting through that’, but it shows what you can do by working together.

“I think it’s really important that we get involved in projects like this; not just important but it’s our duty to show that we are invested in the community around us.”

The Shakespeare Sonnet garden is due to open later this summer.