Victoria digs it

VICTORIA Nice loves gardening but there has been a problem with her enjoying the pastime – until now. The nine-year-old suffers from spina bifida and uses a wheelchair which makes it very difficult to dig and plant. But now Victoria has become the first p

VICTORIA Nice loves gardening but there has been a problem with her enjoying the pastime - until now.

The nine-year-old suffers from spina bifida and uses a wheelchair which makes it very difficult to dig and plant.

But now Victoria has become the first person to use some newly built mini-allotments in Baldock, designed especially for people with disabilities.

Young offenders from Stevenage and Letchworth GC built the five allotments - the first in North Herts - that are mounted on raised platforms so that disabled people can move round them in wheelchairs.

Katrina Nice, Victoria's mum, said: "It has been lovely spending time together in the fresh air. Victoria really enjoys her allotment and has benefited greatly from spending time there. We usually walk down as a family and tend it together. She's already grown carrots, parsnips and butternut squash, as well as a giant sunflower. Making allotments for people with disabilities is a wonderful idea."

Victoria, from Stane Street, Baldock, who attends Hartsfield JMI School, has also been helped by other allotment holders on the site, creating a great sense of community spirit.

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The allotments were inspired by an allotment holder suffering from motor neurone disease who was unable to gain access to, and use his allotment plot.

The project was designed to give other keen gardeners in his position the opportunity to continue to use an allotment.

The creation of the gardens has not just benefited the disabled.

Hertfordshire County Council's youth offending team supervised the young people while on site, together with Mick Camp, chairman of the Baldock Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Association, who said: "I have been amazed by the commitment of these young people.

"It's been evident that they've gained a real sense of achievement - one youngster even offered to come back to help finish the allotment after his community service hours ended."

Adam, one of the young offenders who worked on the site, said: "It made me think about what I did. I would consider doing this voluntarily in the future as it's good to help other people who are not as fortunate as me."

If anyone is interested in taking one of the raised beds, contact Mr Camp on 01462 893418 or North Herts Council on 01462 474000.

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