Flower power is uniting the community and beating the vandals in a Denbighshire town – with the help of cash seized from criminals.
From three-year-olds at a day nursery to 93-year-olds at a care home, the Denbigh in Bloom campaign has involved all ages and sections of society, according to organisers.
They welcomed the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Arfon Jones, and the High Sheriff of Clwyd, Lady Charlotte Hanmer, to inspect a spectacular show of flowers in the town’s High Street and both were suitably impressed.
Earlier this year the dedicated band of volunteers that is Denbigh in Bloom received a £2,000 cash windfall from the Commissioner’s Your Community Your Choice awards which paid for new planters for the town centre.
These have been filled with flowers by a small army of green-fingered helpers, including children from local primary schools, tots from a day nursery and residents at a care home.
The money also helped pay for propagators, tools, compost and pots to nurture the seedlings and even the current heatwave and drought hasn’t stopped the people of Denbigh who have been out watering the blooms.
The Your Community, Your Choice initiative is also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2018.
It is the fifth year of the awards scheme and much of over £160,000 handed out to deserving causes in that time has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The initiative is aimed at organisations who pledge to run projects to tackle anti-social behaviour and combat crime and disorder in line with the priorities in Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan.
Denbigh in Bloom Chair Lindsey Tasker said: “It has been a brilliant effort and involved all sections of the community and Graham Pickles from the Greenfingers Garden Centre has even been out with a water bowser to make sure the plants survive the hot spell.
“It has been challenging because of the lack of rain but so many people have been involved from little tots from Snuggles Day Nursery to older people with dementia from the Plas Eleri care home on Rhyl Road.
“There was uproar last year because there had been vandalism of the planters and local people have been determined to root that out and it’s been amazing to see how they have come together.”
Arfon Jones said: “The work done by the volunteers in Denbigh is so important because if you allow an area to go downhill then crime and vandalism increase but if you make it something that is attractive then people take pride in it.
“I’m delighted that the children have been involved because it is so important that they are proud of their town and looking at what they have done it is clear that this was money well spent.
“The Your Community Your Choice awards are aimed at helping organisations to run projects which tackle anti-social behaviour and combat crime in line with the priorities in my Police and Crime Plan and Denbigh in Bloom fits the bill perfectly.”
Lady Hanmer, accompanied by the Under Sheriff, Sarah Noton, of leading law firm Swayne Johnson, was also impressed and told pupils from Frongoch, Pendref and Twm o’r Nant primary schools: “I hope you have all enjoyed helping look after the flowers. It’s very much appreciated and has created a lovely display to brighten the town centre.”
Lyndsey Tasker said: “We started in the summer of 2016 with just a couple of people who wanted to make the town look a bit brighter.
“We now have over 100 people taking part in the scheme from the wider community and the £2,000 from Your Community Your Choice has come as a huge boost to us, especially as all our funding comes though sponsorship, donations and grant applications.”
Twice a year Denbigh in Bloom hosts popular Town Plant up Days in the Town Hall and Lyndsey says the funding will enable the group to purchase additional planters for the events this year.
Assistant Chief Constable Richard Debicki said: “It sends a really positive message that money taken from the pockets of criminals is being recycled. This is turning bad money into good.”
PACT chairman David Williams added: “We are delighted that we can assist in the administration of this fund.
“The aims Your Community, Your Choice scheme also coincide with the objectives of the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan so it creates a virtuous circle.”