Spruce up gives community park new life

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Vulnerable adults have been helping to spruce up a community park.

Members of the district’s Day Opportunities, working with Wakefield Council’s Streetscene, Smawthorne Welfare Action Team (SWAT) and local councillors, have planted new shrubs around Smawthorne Park in Castleford.

The planting is part of ongoing improvements volunteers are making to the site.

Coun Richard Forster, Castleford councillor and deputy cabinet member for environment and communities said: “This has been a great event bringing lots of volunteers together to replant the shrubbery in Smawthorne Welfare Park.

“The next stage is to involve schools in bulb planting so by spring the shrubbery should be a real spectacle of colour.”

The latest work also included repairs to a memorial bench dedicated to soldier Craig Hopson, which had been vandalised and graffitied. Bombardier Hopson, from Castleford, was killed in 2009, aged 24, whilst on active service in Afghanistan.

Zoe Gaitley, chair of SWAT, said: “It was upsetting to see the bench had been vandalised, particularly as it was getting used a lot. There’s a lot of people that enjoy it, including families watching their children in the play area.”

During the coming weeks, children at Smawthorne Henry Moore Primary School and Half Acres Primary School in Castleford will plant bulbs in the park, and colourful bird boxes they have painted will also be installed.

Mrs Gaitley said they then hoped to develop a sensory garden, with things for people to smell and touch.

The group is also planning to get a new Christmas tree for the park, after one planted with the help of school children went missing in September. It will be a venue for carol singing and festive celebrations.

She said: “We are determined to make this a lovely park for the community to enjoy.”