Green-fingered TV celebrities give carers centre a makeover

Anneka Rice and Phil Tufnell from the BBC TV show The Flowerpot Gang pictured during a filming break with some of the young carers at the Carers Centre in Thompson Road Southwick.
Anneka Rice and Phil Tufnell from the BBC TV show The Flowerpot Gang pictured during a filming break with some of the young carers at the Carers Centre in Thompson Road Southwick.
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CELEBRITY green fingers have given a lifeline centre a garden makeover.

TV presenters Anneka Rice, Phil Tufnell and garden designer Joe Swift, from BBC One show The Flowerpot Gang, have transformed grounds at Sunderland Carers Centre in Southwick.

As seen on TV last night, they enlisted the help of volunteers to breathe new life into the site in Thompson Park and turn it into a play and chill-out area for young carers.

Sue Callaghan, young carers worker at the centre, said: “The producers of the The Flowerpot Gang programme were looking for worthy projects that would benefit from a garden make-over so we applied.

“We were shortlisted and the producers travelled up from London to meet the young carers who would use the garden.

“We were one of the four projects chosen because they were totally blown away when they met the young carers and listened to their experiences.”

With the help of many volunteers, the hard work and transformation of the garden began in late June and for 10 days Sue was kept in the dark about the garden design and its progress.

Sue said: “When the garden was finally revealed to us we were just totally amazed by the amount of work completed and the amount of volunteers who took part.

“I found out City of Sunderland College, the RNLI lifeboat crew, lifeguards, Salvation Army and the Friends of Thompson Park all sent their own mini-armies to help out.

“A company called Infinite Edge also donated and built a unique climbing frame and as soon as they kids saw it, they were all over it.

“Carers of all ages also rolled up their sleeves and gave up their valuable time. They were just so happy to be part of something so special for the young carers.”

Young carers were involved in the project from the start, designing and working in the garden and Sue says she is proud of their achievements.

“All of the hard work they have put into the project has really paid off and now they have an amazing place they can call their own,” she said.

“They have named their new space their garden of dreams because a few of months ago they never would have thought any of this was possible.”

If you missed the programme, it’s available on BBC iPlayer.

•Sunderland Carers’ Centre at Thompson Park, Thompson Road, is holding a launch party to 
celebrate their new premises and garden next 
Wednesday from 10.30am to 2pm. All carers are welcome.

Twitter: @sunechokaty

YOUNG carers are children and young people aged four to 25 whose lives are in some way restricted because they provide care, assistance or support to another family member.

Often on a regular basis they carry out significant or substantial caring tasks and take on a level of responsibility which would usually be associated with an adult.

The 2001 census identified 175,000 young carers in the UK.

If you are a carer and want to know more about the services Sunderland Carers’ Centre can offer, phone 549 3768 or visit www.sunderlandcarers.co.uk.

ANNEKA Rice became a household name in the 80s as the jump-suited skyrunner on Channel 4’s Treasure Hunt.

She went on to secure success on the BBC1 show Challenge Anneka.

Phil Tufnell played cricket for England and Middlesex.

After retiring in 2002, Tufnell has become a popular TV personality, winning I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

Gardener Joe Swift is the son of actor Clive Swift, best known as Richard Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances, and author Margaret Drabble.