The diary of a volunteer

Press release 16/09/2013 07:32 CET

A Skanska volunteer involved in a community project in Kent says it was hard work but incredibly rewarding.

The team

Ludi Hall-Drinkwater from Skanska’s facilities team was one of 21 volunteers who helped turn part of Pent Valley Technology College in Folkestone into a sensory garden.

Ludi said: “When we arrived at Pent Valley Technical college at 6.30am on Monday 2 September – having seen the plans and the area we were converting into the sensory garden – I immediately understood the enormity of the task in hand. I wondered how we could possibly do this project in two days.

As soon as we started it was pretty clear that I hadn’t realised what I had signed up to. Each task throughout the day was harder than I’d imagined. The majority of the day was spent turning over the soil ready for planting the next day – the ground was unbelievably tough. Each wheelbarrow full of material got heavier and heavier as the day went on.

By the end of the first day, we’d been working for nearly 12 hours. We were all absolutely exhausted. Looking at the garden, the amount of work we’d put in on the first day wasn’t immediately obvious. The lack of anything you’d associate with a sensory garden meant it looked like we hadn’t achieved much at all, despite all the hard work!

We thought the second day would be easier – but it was just as hard. However it was really exciting to watch the garden take shape. As the trees, turf, plants and shed went in, the garden really began to take shape. However it got to 4pm all too quickly and we were nowhere near finished! The next couple of hours were hectic. Everyone was very stressed trying to ensure that everything was finished in time for the official opening at 6pm. Fortunately, we did manage to finish on time - at 5.58pm!

It was a great feeling looking at the garden when it was complete. I still can’t quite get my head round how we achieved so much in such a short space of time. It was hard work but also a lot of fun – it was great to get to know people from Skanska’s facilities team and from The Twig Group, Meronden and TRS – It was a great atmosphere, everybody working together.”

About the project

Skanska’s facilities team held a competition through Heart radio in Kent, asking local Kent people to put forward community projects in need of help. Kent residents were then asked to vote on their favourite project out of five that were shortlisted. The winning project was the sensory garden at the Pent Valley Technology College in Folkestone.

The overgrown garden has been transformed over the two day period and includes a pond, benches for relaxing, wheelchair access, fruit trees, bird and bug boxes and scented flowers.  The team of volunteers from Skanska and The Twig Group designed the garden and created it with help from local companies Merendon, TRS, A Plant and Palmstead.

Mr Mario Citro, Headteacher at Pent Valley Technology College said: “We are delighted to have been the lucky winners of this competition. We now have a wonderful sensory garden which we will be able to use with all of our students at Pent Valley. In particular we know that some of our students who have specific needs will benefit tremendously from this new facility. We are looking forward to our local primary schools also visiting and using the garden on a regular basis throughout the year.”

Jon Chown, Operations Director at Skanska said, “What an amazing challenge and such a fantastic outcome. A brilliant job done by everyone involved.”

David Eyre, Director at The Twig Group said, “When Skanska approached and asked us to volunteer for this project we felt honoured to be involved. Our team really enjoy being part of projects that help and benefit the local community.”