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Gardening project growing after win
Tuesday, 08 November 2011
THE man behind a gardening project which trains and rehabilitates young offenders has said that without the Our Heroes Awards his project could have been shelved.
Vinnie O’Connell, founder of New Leaf at West Dulwich railway station in Thurlow Park Road, won the Community Project category in the South London Press Our Heroes Awards in November last year.
Vinnie, 49, who is a judge at this year’s ceremony, said the award had given it the public awareness his group needed to survive.
He said “amazing things” had happened as a result of winning – including a financial bail-out from United St Saviour’s Charity in Union Street, London Bridge, last month.
He said: “It costs us £5,000 a year to run this place and then extra to achieve all the work we hope to do this year.
“We raise money from our charity bookshop beside the station but otherwise rely on donations and grants.
“Winning the Our Heroes award has given us a huge boost and really opened up people’s eyes to what we do.
“If we hadn’t got the award we wouldn’t have got the £5,000 funding from the United St Saviour’s Charity.
“That means our rent is paid for the year, which is absolutely fantastic.”
The Southwark council youth worker set up the charity three years ago to improve the area around West Dulwich station and create an evolution-themed garden.
The charity supports young offenders by helping to create botanical gardens at the station as part of their community payback work.
Many of those who have taken part in the project have gone on to work in gardening, tree surgery and park maintenance.
Vinnie, who has since been made a fellow of the Linnean Society of London – the world’s biggest society for the study of natural history – said: “It’s not just what the award has meant for us from a funding point of view, it’s about the boost it’s given the volunteers.
“It’s fantastic for people – the unsung heroes if you like – to be recognised for what they do and to shout it the rooftops that there are positive things coming out of South London.”
The campaign culminates in a gala ceremony at the South Bank headquarters of sponsors Shell on November 15.
Copyright Tindle Newspapers Ltd Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Other Our Heroes Awards 2011:
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