Dirty boots – and a British Empire Medal!

COMMUNITY worker Lucy Mitchell says she will accept her New Year’s Honour – as a tribute to the volunteers who work with her.

Lucy, who runs Golden Hill Community Garden in Horfield, was awarded a British Empire Medal – despite being an anti-royalist.

The project worker says at first she wasn’t sure whether to accept it. She said: “To start with when they rang I said I’d think about it.  I think the honours system is ridiculous and didn’t like the sound of a British Empire Medal. I’m an anti-monarchist.”

“I’m paid to do this – it’s my job, so it seemed strange to pick out one paid person when there are so many volunteers.  But when I thought about it and talked to people, I realised it’s a nice way for the Garden to be recognised.  I was really flattered for the Garden to get this, and decided it’s a fun thing.”

The Community Garden started when members of Horfield and District Allotment Association decided they wanted to make better use of a derelict area of the existing allotments in Monk Road.

They decided to create a community allotment which anyone could visit, including people with physical or mental ill health or learning difficulties.  It was also for people who didn’t want their own allotment, or needed help learning to grow fruit and veg.

After four years of fund raising, they got a grant from the Big Lottery Fund and Green Capital, and in 2011 work started clearing the site.

Lucy was taken on as a community project worker and oversaw turning the plot the size of 12 allotments into workable gardens.

The Community Garden is now open to the public every Wednesday – and part of Lucy’s job is organising regular groups of up to 30 volunteers to look after the garden, and carry out maintenance work.

She also runs sessions for toddlers, after school clubs, young people with special educational needs, adults with learning difficulties and community groups.

Lucy says the honour is a tribute to all of them and their hard work.

“I always imagined these things were something rich people and celebs get but it seems someone with dirty boots can get one too,” she said.

“I think it’s a fun thing we can all talk about – and it would be great to wear a medal while working here, cleaning out the compost toilets!”

But it won’t be a visit to Buckingham Palace for Lucy. She says when she told officials that would be a step too far, they said she wasn’t invited anyway, as the honour will be presented by Bristol Lord Lieutenant Peaches Golding.

If you want to know more about The Golden Hill Community Garden, or get involved you can find all the details on their website: https://thegoldenhillcommunitygarden.com/

Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/TheGoldenHillCommunityGarden/?ref=page_internal