Army officer's award-winning restoration of WWII 'secret garden'
- Credit: Ministry of Defence
Volunteers who lovingly restored a Grade II listed overgrown walled garden at a former top secret World War II listening post have won two Ministry of Defence conservation awards.
For its Chicksands Historic Walled Garden Project, Chicksands Conservation Group won the Silver Otter Trophy for best conservation effort and the Social Value, Community and Heritage Award at the annual Defence Sanctuary Awards, which recognise outstanding conservation and sustainability effort across the MOD estate.
The community walled garden is part of Chicksands Priory, which is now home to Defence Intelligence. The priory played a significant part in World War II by intercepting and logging coded enemy transmissions which were sent directly to Bletchley Park to be decoded and analysed.
Chicksands Conservation Group volunteers carried out an action plan to rescue the garden, designed and led by army officer Captain Vicki Gosling.
They began in November 2019 and the first few months saw them rigorously clearing what had become a wilderness due to years of neglect.
You may also want to watch:
Waist-high grass was chopped down to reveal memorial plaques to members of the Y service - a unit of radio operators who manned secret radio-listening stations in the UK and around the world during World War II.
To raise money to buy tools for the volunteers to use, plants were propagated and sold, raising more than £500.
- 1 Arrests made after assault leaves victim with lacerations to the head
- 2 Ambulance called to crash between motorcycle and van in Stevenage
- 3 Historic family jewellers scoops up industry awards
- 4 GP surgery blamed for young cancer victim's late diagnosis
- 5 I went to Stevenage Charter Fair for the first time, and here's what I thought
- 6 Remembering one of Hertfordshire's best-known estate agents
- 7 Sacrifices made as Stevenage defiantly answer their critics at Harrogate Town
- 8 Hertfordshire's adult social care workers honoured at award ceremony
- 9 Stevenage has 'no money left' for new special needs children, says county council
- 10 Bridgerton: First look at Kate Sharma in season two of Netflix drama
Allotments have been created using old railway sleepers destined for landfill, and vegetable beds have been restored.
A vine now has a burgeoning grape crop where last year there was none, and the plan is to produce a wine to raise further funds.
The next stage is to restore the glasshouse.
Captain Gosling said: “The team is extremely proud and thrilled to have won the awards. It is a fantastic testimony to the commitment of the team.”
The Honourable Jeremy Quin MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, who presented the virtual awards, said: “The judges were impressed with the stunning garden transformation photographs, which were like finding a secret garden.
“The project has great social value. A community project with heritage, volunteering, wildlife, green space, community wellbeing and military benefit.”