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Players from the Garon Park Walking Football Club took up their shovels to assist with a huge tree-planting programme which has been undertaken by custodians of the site.
With the month-long lockdown forcing the club to take an unscheduled break, the footballers took the opportunity to give something back at the rapidly developing Southend venue.
Garon Park trustee, Clive Shiret, takes up the story: “Well, the guys normally play football on Friday, but in lockdown, we are looking for something else to do to keep fit and keep the camaraderie up.
“We decided to help the Garron Park Community Interest Company with their planting programme.
“What we are doing here today – because we can socially distance in the 32 acres of parkland over here – we’ve each been allocated 30 trees to plant _ little trees which have been donated by the Woodland and the Carbon Trust.
“The idea is that we will be planting those trees and in years to come they will form a nice habitat for birds, insects and wildlife in general and form a part of the nature school which the Garon Park Community Interest Company are putting in place.”
The Garon Park site has changed drastically over the past two years. As well as providing an important sporting hub which is home to football and cricket clubs connected to Old Southendian and has staged under 23 matches for Southend United, Mr Shiret offered an insight into how Garon Park will reach out into the local community: “There are lots to do on the site. It’s a big project. The basic mission is to use the benefits of the outdoor space here to improve the health and wellbeing of the local people.
“The idea is local groups can come here for activities, improving their health and wellbeing. Garon Park can become a reference point for them to focus around.
“All the local communities, several of which are quite deprived, will have access to a facility. For example, it is safe for mother and baby groups, for kids to participate in nature schools, safe for vulnerable people to get a bit of exercise. They can use our new wellbeing walkway which we have put in with the help of the National Lottery.”