A GARDENING club in Penarth has been given a boost with donations from J.G. Hale Construction, the long-term construction partner on a Wales & West Housing (WWH) social housing development for residents over the age of 55 in Cardiff.

The donation of gardening equipment, planters, topsoil and a brand-new shed has been made by the Neath-based building contractor as part of its community benefits commitment to working with Wales & West Housing.

J.G. Hale Construction is currently working on a £5.5 million transformation of the former Blue Dragon Hotel in Roath, Cardiff for the housing provider.

The development project has seen the former hotel turned into 49 apartments across three storeys, and includes a mobility scooter store, refuse store and communal landscaped garden area. The development is part of J.G. Hale Construction’s 10-year long term construction partnership with WWH.

The new homes, which are purpose built for older residents, are designed to support a community feel with high-quality outdoor space. Each apartment has wide doorways, open plan living and wet rooms, aimed at helping to support people to live independently for as long as possible.

When the residents of one of Wales & West Housing’s existing housing schemes at Salisbury Close, Penarth, approached the local Community Development team for help to develop their community garden, the WWH staff turned to J.G. Hale Construction.

J.G. Hale Construction donated a shed and other gardening items and another of WWH’s regular contractors, Mike Guthrie Building Solutions, donated labour to install the shed.

The result is that the residents’ gardening club at Salisbury Close can now make the most of their communal gardens. The local gardening club has been running for 10 years, and in that time has brought many of the residents together to share their love of gardening and make new friends.

Penarth gardening club member, Jenny, explained: “During lockdown it really helped me. I was on furlough and didn’t work for three months and I had always been used to getting up and going out to work. So, I was able to spend my spare time in the garden. I would come out and plant seeds and watching them grow, it really helped.

“The gardening brought us closer together. Once people realise the garden is here for everyone, they come here and sit and watch the birds or donate cuttings and plants. I’ve met lots of new people.”

Herman Valentin, Wales & West Housing’s Community Development Officer for Cardiff and the Vale, added: “The residents approached us to help them develop their garden and provide a safe storage area for their tools.

“We were happy that J.G. Hale Construction and Mike Guthrie Building Solutions could help as part of their commitment to give back and support our communities. With J.G. Hale Construction’s donation of raised beds, topsoil and a shed and Mike Guthrie’s labour to install the shed, the gardeners can now lock their tools away safely at the end of each day. The raised beds also make it easier for some of the older and less mobile residents to get out in the fresh air and get involved with the gardening. The donation will make a huge difference to the gardeners.”

David Harrhy, Managing Director, J.G. Hale Construction, said: “Since lockdown, we have reassessed and tailored our community benefits towards supporting projects which encourage community cohesion and wellbeing through outdoor activities. We’re pleased to have collaborated with our client WWH to donate new planters, soil, and a shed to the residents of Salisbury Close to assist with the residents’ gardening club.”