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Green gift now in bloom at Summerhill orchard

27 May 2015

Summerhill 3A community orchard in Newcastle is now doing blooming well thanks to a green gift from Stagecoach North East.

Charitable organisation, Friends of Summerhill (FoS), won an eco prize of £250 from the local bus operator, after taking part in the company’s ‘Green Santa’ competition for community groups across Newcastle.

The community project, which was formed in 2011 to turn the old pavilion and grounds of Summerhill Bowling Club off Westgate Hill into an orchard, submitted a winning response to the question ‘What could Stagecoach Green Santa give your community group to help the environment?’

FoS requested the funds to purchase two plum trees, six blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes, a wooden compost bin, a wormery and a water butt for the orchard, which is a much loved green space in the city.

The community resource now has regular activities such as fitness sessions, tango, yoga, National Childbirth Trust classes and a children’s music group. However gardening is an important aspect for FoS and over the last couple of years groups of volunteers have developed different parts of the grounds as a communal allotment, a wildlife garden and, most recently, an orchard.

The orchard had its official inauguration late last year, where a group of children assisted by family members, local residents and members of the Newcastle and District Beekeepers Association planted five apple trees, two pears, a greengage and several fruit bushes.

Paul Usherwood, a volunteer at FoS, said: “We were all really delighted to win the Green Santa Competition. Fundraising for the community garden projects is a key part of our activities and this success meant that we could move ahead with our composting plans in the new orchard much more quickly than anticipated and also invest in more fruit trees and bushes. It was a wonderful pat on the back for the Friends of Summerhill and what we are trying to achieve.

“The Friends of Summerhill is at the heart of the Summerhill community. With 400 members, most of whom are local residents, and 250+ users per week, the pavilion and gardens at Summerhill provide a wide range of activities, from tango to toddler groups. About 25 regular volunteers help maintain and improve our facilities, making sure that Summerhill is one of the best places to live and work in Newcastle.”

Phil Medlicott, Managing Director of Stagecoach North East, said: “We were delighted to choose Friends of Summerhill and its orchard for the green prize, and it is most deserved. Summerhill is a vital part of a greener Newcastle and also an educational resource where people of all ages can learn about and enjoy the natural world, and these additional items will help to further expand this community garden.”

For further information about Stagecoach North East please visit our About us page.

In the picture: back row (L to R): Hugh Stolliday (FoS Chairman), George Docherty (Stagecoach bus driver and Green Santa);  front row (L to R): FoS members Carlotta Stolliday (5), Cecilia Stolliday (5), Cleo Thompson (4)