Green-fingered Gerald unveils community garden at fun day

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A big-hearted tenant who suffers from arthritis defied the pain to create a new community garden in memory of his late sister.

The flower-filled garden was officially opened by Gerald Dunphy, 62, during a fun day at the Chester Avenue estate in Kinmel Bay in Conwy.

Gerald’s efforts have now inspired the other tenants to set up a special gardening team called Green Fingers.

Stan Burrows, Emma Abdelkhalex and Vinnie Murtagh.
Picture by Richard Williams.

The fun day was organised by housing association Cartrefi Conwy, the local Community Action Group and the estate’s Resident’s Association.

The action-packed event included everything from Morris dancers to donkey rides and tombola to live music – even Harry Styles made an appearance, but only a cardboard cut-out version of the pop superstar

Gerald, who moved to the Chester Avenue estate three years ago, says the event had a real community feel about it.

He said: “I like living in Kinmel Bay after moving here from Towyn.

“My sister Alice-Marie was Down syndrome and sadly she died in 2015

“I had a bench made with her name on it and had it in my garden. But on the other side of the fence there was a bit of unused land. It was full of litter and the odd shopping trolley.

“I have really bad arthritis and it took me a good bit of time to clear it all. Once I had it clear I planted up a garden in memory of Alice-Marie.

“All the other residents and tenants seem to like it all the flowers and plants and what I’ve done.”

Cinderella, aka Eleanor Roberts, meets Harry Styles.
Picture by Richard Williams.

“It’s a good community and I’ve really enjoyed coming to the fun day and meeting neighbours and other tenants and residents. It’s good to celebrate together.”

According to Cartrefi Conwy community engagement officer Vinny Murtagh, the event had been a big success.

He said: “It’s about bringing the community together. It’s important the day is led by residents and tenants and not by Cartrefi Conwy. We are here to help and offer advice and it’s great to see everyone enjoying themselves and joining in the fun.

“Gerald is a real character and I know how much other tenants and residents like what he’s done in brightening up the community through his amazing garden.”

Transport supervisor Stan Burrows, who is chair of the Residents’ Association, said: “We have had so much going on and the community has raised a great deal of money which will go toward trips out for the elderly and young people living in the community.

“And it’s great to see Gerald here enjoying himself. He has made a real difference in turning what was a small scruffy piece of waste land that basically attracted litter into a great community asset.”

He added: “We are now doing the same thing as a Residents’ Association in turning another disused and neglected area into a garden in memory for former residents and tenants.

“The Chester Avenue Community Action Group has formed a gardening team called Green Fingers and they are now in the process of planting up planters and flower baskets to brighten up the estate. Gerald is a member of Green Fingers.”

Sally Tierney and Sharon Hughes, from Cartrefi Conwy’s Parc Peulwys estate in Llysfaen, above Old Colwyn, brought along some members of their Sharelles Morris Dancing Troupe who put on a display for the revellers.

The Sharelles morris dancers.
Picture by Richard Williams.

Sharon, the troupe’s principal and trainer, says the team has 35 members and it’s always inclusive.

She said: “We have one girl who has cerebral palsy and a girl who has hearing difficulties as well as several with learning disabilities. Our youngest member is just two and we do have some senior ladies who are in their 40s. We do need more boys and men though!

“It’s been great coming down to support another Cartrefi Conwy community and the girls have had a great time.”

Rhyl Football Club added some competition to the day with a penalty shoot-out competition with prizes of replica first team shirts as well as scarves and other memorabilia up for grabs.

Rhyl FC managing director Mike Jones was delighted to support the community day.

He said: “As a football club Cartrefi Conwy is very important to us as they are our main sponsors. It’s been great to support the community fun day and the residents and tenants of Chester Avenue.

“We have been giving out all sorts of prizes from replica first team kits to scarves and pin badges. It’s been a wonderful day.”