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Group recognised for putting the (green) heart back into Bury St Edmunds

A community group which started as a way of creating safe spaces on a Bury St Edmunds estate has won recognition.

The Howard Estate Green Hearts was launched by a group of residents with a ‘safe to knock’ initiative, with participants displaying a green heart in their homes.

Then, during lockdown, Green Hearts members collected items for NHS care packages.

Bury in Bloom community award presentation to Howard Estate Green Hearts members
Bury in Bloom community award presentation to Howard Estate Green Hearts members

The group has since expanded to organise community clean-up events and campaign for improved facilities – its petition for an outdoor gym could see equipment installed next year.

On Sunday, an estimated 50 residents collected rubbish and trimmed overgrown grass from footpaths in Parkington Walk.

Johnny Chandler, one of the founding members, said: “It has really taken off. I said ‘let’s start tidying up the estate’ and for the last month or so everyone’s been coming out to help.

“On Sunday, we had 50 people turn up with their shovels, it was like a task force.

“Where the grass had taken over the pavement – 12 inches in places – we took it back and it looks amazing. In some places the pavement was just two paving slabs wide and now it is three.”

Johnny said it was hoped to do the same along the other main paths on the estate next.

“The best thing is people are getting to know other people and bringing their children with them. On Sunday, there was a group of teenagers playing with the youngsters. I’ve not seen that happen for years. There has been such good community spirit,” said Johnny, who is supported by other active Green Hearts members.

On Tuesday, Green Hearts organisers were presented with a Bury in Bloom outstandingachievement within the community award by mayor Peter Thompson.

Next week, the group will share drop-off locations for Christmas care package donations through the Howard Estate Community page on Facebook.

It is asking for non-perishable items now, while it hopes keen bakers on the estate might make and donate some tasty treats for the boxes nearer Christmas.

The packages will be given to residents in need and to the Rainbow Ward.

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