Deckham′s Chelsea Garden

Kathryn Forte, Home Group, Councillor Brian Coates, Alfie Elrington and Kelvin Moore from Northumbrian Water.


A keen gardener from Gateshead has won a competition to design his very own Chelsea Garden.

Alfie Elrington, who is 75, entered the Northumbrian Water and Home Group competition, which gave residents the opportunity to come up with a design to turn a piece of land off Chelsea Gardens, in Deckham, Gateshead, into a community garden.

The aim is to transform the currently unused piece of land, which measures 28 by 30 metres, into an attractive area that residents can be proud of and to also raise awareness of how surface water can be managed in the natural environment in all weather conditions.

Features that were encouraged to be included in garden design include surfaces which allow water to soak into them or grassed channels which temporarily store and drain surface water, known as swales.

Mr Elrington, who has lived in Deckham since 1978, said: “I really enjoy gardening. When I saw the competition, I thought I’d give it a go. I was surprised when my garden design was shortlisted in the top three and I was very surprised when I won! It is an added bonus that I have also received £250 worth of Tesco vouchers for my effort.

“I feel so proud that I have a real opportunity to improve my local community and create somewhere nice for people of all ages to appreciate the outdoors. I can’t wait to see my garden design come to life!”

Alfie’s garden impressed judges from Northumbrian Water, affordable housing provider Home Group, Gateshead Council and local residents, who also had a say in which garden should be designed. A shortlist of three garden designs was presented to the residents of Deckham at five different events in November and December last year.

His design stood out as it is accessible, has features which manage surface water in a sustainable way, such as permeable paving and shallow areas that hold surface water temporarily in times of heavy rain. The planting will visually improve the neighbourhood and will also provide a haven for wildlife. A sundial and bridge will also add interest to the garden.

Northumbrian Water’s Kelvin Moore, who came up with the idea for the competition, said: “This competition was an engaging and fun way to highlight how surface water can be managed in the natural environment in all weather conditions.

Mr Elrington has this at the heart of his garden design. Everyone can do their bit to manage surface water better in their gardens. They can do things like install a water butt and re-use rainwater in their garden or use permeable surfaces when laying drives or patios.

“It is great that Alfie has embraced the opportunity to use gardening, which is something he really enjoys, to improve his local community and to create a lovely space that residents will enjoy now and in the future.”

Kathryn Forte, Home Group strategic neighbourhood co-ordinator, said: “We’re really pleased to be working with Northumbrian Water on this scheme which will improve the neighbourhood. The winning garden design from Mr Elrington has proved to be really popular among everyone in the community. There is a focal point of a sundial and we’ll work towards trying to get a local artist to produce this for the community.”

It is hoped that Alfie’s garden design will be created and brought to life by the Summer.

For further information contact Cara Charlton on 0191 301 6720.

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