RESIDENTS at Wales & West Housing’s Oak Court scheme in Penarth have been celebrating the opening of their community garden.

The event, which was sponsored by CJS Electrical and Gibson Specialist Technical Services, saw residents coming together to celebrate in the sunshine with a buffet, raffle, DJ set, visit from Vale Owls sanctuary and a best hat competition as part of the party’s Ladies’ Day at Ascot theme.

The garden was then officially opened by Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive of WWH, during a special ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Over the past 12 months, those living at Oak Court have worked tirelessly to transform the garden, led by residents Sandra Thomas, David John Brigham and Paul Clark.

From a bare grass area just one year ago, the garden is now blossoming with wild flowers, potted plants and a huge variety of fruit and vegetables. Other features include an ornamental garden and wheelchair- friendly patio area.

As well as raising more than £600 for the garden themselves through raffles, bake sales and big breakfasts, the green-fingered residents have received help along the way with funding from WWH’s Make It Happen Grant and Environment Fund, as well as support and assistance from WWH staff. The funding has provided a shed, greenhouse and raised bed amongst other garden goods.

The Oak Court gardeners are also the first WWH residents to pioneer an exciting new aquaponics system, again thanks to funding received from WWH. The innovative system sees water from their fish tank recycled in to clean water to feed their growing plants, which, in turn, cleans the water for the fish.

Sandra Thomas, Oak Court resident and member of the gardening club, said: “We’re so pleased with the garden- it’s lovely to see everyone sitting out on the patio with their cold drinks and ice cream, enjoying the weather. We’ve worked so hard – from morning until late evening at times – but I love it. Gardening is so therapeutic and has done me the world of good.”

Fellow resident David John Brigham added: “I knew nothing about gardening before we started this project, but now I’ve learnt so much. I really enjoy it and I’m out in the garden for a good few hours a day- weeding, watering the plants and looking after the fish.”

Chris Williams, Managing Director at CJS Electrical, said: “As a contractor of Wales & West Housing, we’re proud to be involved with an organisation that’s proactive in environmental sustainability. We’re pleased to have sponsored the opening of the garden at Oak Court- the facility really is of huge benefit to the residents here.”

Paul Gibson, from Gibson Specialist Technical Services, said: “It was our pleasure to sponsor the opening of the garden, having worked closely with Wales & West Housing and Oak Court residents over the past 12 months. Being from Penarth myself, I believe it’s important to support local community projects such as this. The Gibson team would like to congratulate the residents for all their hard work and we hope they continue to enjoy their garden long into the future.”

Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive of WWH, said: “The community garden at Oak Court is one of several that we have helped our residents to create and I look forward to seeing many more. From speaking with the residents here, it’s evident that the garden has had a really positive impact on their happiness and wellbeing, which is wonderful to see. I would like to say well done to all those involved.”