Elaine LaRoche memorial garden unveiled at Baldock nursery after community pulls together to support Prince’s Trust project

PUBLISHED: 16:32 22 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:26 15 August 2017

Prince's Trust team leader Jack Todd formally hands over the Elaine LaRoche memorial plaque to Weston Way Nursery School extended provision facilitator Sue Dymoke. Picture: JP Asher

Prince's Trust team leader Jack Todd formally hands over the Elaine LaRoche memorial plaque to Weston Way Nursery School extended provision facilitator Sue Dymoke. Picture: JP Asher

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A garden built by a team of young people in memory of a beloved Baldock school secretary has today been unveiled at her old workplace.

Elaine LaRoche, who worked as secretary at Weston Way Nursery School for 27 years, and died from cancer in April. Picture: John FrancisElaine LaRoche, who worked as secretary at Weston Way Nursery School for 27 years, and died from cancer in April. Picture: John Francis

A team of seven youngsters on the Prince’s Trust 12-week self-development programme Team, based at Baldock & Letchworth Fire Station, created the garden in honour of Weston Way Nursery School secretary Elaine LaRoche, who died from cancer in April.

Elaine worked at the nursery for 27 years, during which time two of the Prince’s Trust programme members themselves went to the school – and she is honoured with a plaque in the new garden, which is behind the staff room.

Inaugurating the garden, the nursery’s Sue Dymoke said: “Elaine’s sudden death has left a huge hole in the nursery here, and we wanted to think about what we could do to have her memory still living on here.

Prince's Trust team member James Chilvers, who himself went to Weston Way Nursery School as a child, gives a tour of the new Elaine LaRoche memorial garden. Picture: JP AsherPrince's Trust team member James Chilvers, who himself went to Weston Way Nursery School as a child, gives a tour of the new Elaine LaRoche memorial garden. Picture: JP Asher

“The staff can see out here from the conservatory where they have their spare time and lunch. It’ll be a really nice area to support their wellbeing, and also to remember Elaine.

“She really loved bright colours, and the team have done a really lovely job of the garden and bringing it all to life. They’ve worked really hard, from coming here as very separate individuals to interacting as part of this project, and we wish them well for the future.”

The Team members planned and developed the project themselves, as well as packing bags at the town’s Tesco store to raise £201 in funding.

Weston Way Nursery School extended provision facilitator Sue Dymoke speaks before the formal plaque handover, as Prince's Trust team leader Jack Todd and his team members Jacob Bryder, James Chilvers, Ryan Dickman, Britney Duplock, Natasha Major, Ellie Hanks and Benjamin Basak look on. Picture: JP AsherWeston Way Nursery School extended provision facilitator Sue Dymoke speaks before the formal plaque handover, as Prince's Trust team leader Jack Todd and his team members Jacob Bryder, James Chilvers, Ryan Dickman, Britney Duplock, Natasha Major, Ellie Hanks and Benjamin Basak look on. Picture: JP Asher

The project has been supported by Tapps Garden Centre, Baldock Beer Festival and many others – and team leader Jack Todd, who took part in the programme himself in 2011, told the Comet that the community response had been fantastic.

Jack, seen in the video below, said: “The community has come together, really. People on Facebook have donated plants, plant pots, money.

“The community on this project has really put the word ‘community’ in ‘community project’ – and it’s such a really good feeling.

“I’ve never seen anything like this on any community project, where everyone gets involved. It’s normally the team doing it, but in fact the footprint that Elaine left has really made something in the community.”

The Team programme is free of charge and designed for 16 to 25-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training, with the aim of building up their skills and helping them get into the workplace. It started in Baldock last month.

The Baldock programme members include Britney Duplock, 17, and James Chilvers, 22, who went to Weston Way Nursery School as children. Their teammates are Benjamin Basak, 24, Jacob Bryder, 17, and 18-year-olds Ryan Dickman, Ellie Hanks and Natasha Major.

The memorial plaque to Weston Way Nursery School secretary Elaine LaRoche that now hangs over the new garden created by the Prince's Trust youngsters over the past month. Picture: JP AsherThe memorial plaque to Weston Way Nursery School secretary Elaine LaRoche that now hangs over the new garden created by the Prince's Trust youngsters over the past month. Picture: JP Asher

Benjamin said: “Since some of our team had actually been to this nursery in the past, we really wanted to do something nice for Elaine.”

Jacob added that they wanted to thank everyone who had donated to the project, as well as the nursery for giving them this opportunity.

To find out more about the Team programme in Baldock, contact Jack Todd on 07824 837508 or jack.todd@hertfordshire.gov.uk.

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