Dollis Hill’s award winning gardeners celebrate

Award winner Bernard Fitzpatrick with his wife Anita both are from Co Cavan
Award winner Bernard Fitzpatrick with his wife Anita both are from Co Cavan
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Campbell Gordon Way won five stars in this year’s London in Bloom Awards

By Fiona O’Brien

A group of green-fingered Dollis Hill residents, led by a Cavan construction worker, were celebrating with the Mayor of Brent this weekend having scooped a prestigious community award.

The residents of Campbell Gordon Way have joined forces to improve the appearance of their neighbourhood and in turn have improved relationships within the community.

They have now won five stars, the top award, in this year’s London in Bloom competition and have claimed the It’s Your Neighbourhood award, marking them as the best neighbourhood in Brent.

Bernard Fitzpatrick, who has lived in Campbell Gordon Way for the past twenty years, began by planting flowers in his own garden but when other neighbours were impressed by what they saw he taught them how to do it too.

“I was the driving force behind the gardening, it started about four years ago just by planting flowers. My neighbours were encouraging me saying it was lovely, so I kept expanding it,” he says.

“After a while, I began to show them how to do it outside their doors, so all they’d have to do is water it.”

The extent of the neighbours’ garden began to sprawl until a team of 20 workers, including 10 children, began to dedicate their time to brighten up the area.

And, they were awarded almost immediately, winning a host of horticultural prizes since then.

“This is our third year into London in Bloom – the first year in we went straight in with four stars, but this is the first time we achieved five stars. Before that we got first prize in Brent in Bloom for three years running,” says Bernard.

And it is a project which Bernard has seen has done a lot more than just improve the area’s appearance.

Bernard, who won a Brent Community Champions Award last year has seen a remarkable change in the relationships between the neighbours since they have worked together to make it greener.

“It’s got our multicultural neighbourhood a lot closer now. We’ve got people from all over the world and before hardly anyone talked to each other, but now it’s a lovely community, everyone’s really friendly, everyone’s getting on.

“We have Easter egg hunts for the kids, where all the kids from all different nationalities come out and get involved. We also do other things throughout the year, like trick or treating at Halloween which is all taken into consideration for the neighbourhood award.

“It’s great. Last year the residents voted me in to become a Brent Community Champion last year and I was well chuffed with that.”

And Saturday was an ideal time to enjoy the fruits of their labour as Mayor Kana Naheerathan and leader of Brent Council Muhammed Butt visited to present the award.

But with such great work already achieved, the neighbours have their work cut out in maintaining standards to keep them at five star level.

“It’s a big party in recognition of all the hard work that’s been done, and then we’ll start again next spring to keep up the standards to try and retain the five stars. Otherwise if they inspect and you haven’t maintained it they can take the award away.

“But tonight we’re going to have fireworks and everything – we definitely know how to party!”

Bernard finished by thanking the residents involved: “Special thanks goes to all the residents who helped to make this a success and mostly to the key player names are: Anita, Jerry, Gabriel, Marcus, Bride, Carlos, Merlyn, Roger, Basco, Ann, Arwa, Hammed, Sylvester, Rachel , Barry, Veronica, Adrian, Martin, Lucy, Shema, Michelle, Som and last but not least PA Selma.

“Also would like to say thanks to the Directors of the Residents Association, Area Manager for Brent council Jacky Brown, Area Manager for Veolia Eugene Buckley, MSC Managing Agent and Aztec Maintenance, Ann and Martin at Brent Neighbourhood watch Association, Paddy Walsh at Buxted constructions. Cllr Parvez Ahmed, Liz Dixon, Arshad Mahmood and former Cllr Alison Hopkins for their continued support.”

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