A COMMUNITY allotment has scooped a prestigious national award after receiving the most public votes in an online poll.
A judging panel also acknowledged Waverley Terrace Community Allotment in Hartlepool as the winner of the Gardening Against the Odds awards run by the Conservation Foundation in association with The Sunday Telegraph and Telegraph Gardening.
We knew we were in with a chance as one of 16 shortlisted entries, but we didn’t dare to think we would win.Darran Hutchinson
Victory was announced at a ceremony in the impressive surroundings of the Great Conservatory at Syon House in London.
A four-strong delegation from Waverley Terrace Community Allotment were handed a trophy from the Duchess of Northumberland who expressed her own delight that the winner was from the North-East.
Previously described as “a community garden in the true sense of the words” when shortlisted for the awards, the community allotment - which has been targeted by vandals on a number of occasions - was also hailed at the ceremony as a “shining beacon of success”.
The allotment, which is run by Hartlepool Borough Council, provides opportunities to children and adults with physical and learning disabilities and mental health problems. It grows a great quantity of fruit and vegetables which is distributed and sold in the community with profits being ploughed back into the project.
It also helps to prepare people for employment and works with Hartlepool College of Further Education whose vocational students provide free labour while gaining vital work experience.
Darran Hutchinson, from the council’s child and adult services department who oversees the allotment, said: “We couldn’t believe it when we were announced as the winner. We were all in a shock for a moment until the news sank in and then we began celebrating.
“We knew we were in with a chance as one of 16 shortlisted entries, but we didn’t dare to think we would win.
“We would like to thank everyone who voted for us in the online poll and it was great to hear that we received the most public votes of any of the shortlisted entries.”
Gill Alexander, the council’s director of child and adult services and the authority’s chief executive-designate, said: “This is a fantastic achievement. A lot of hard work by many people has gone into developing this project and this award is well-deserved recognition for their efforts.”