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The 1960s barrow on Lark Lane that helps to fund activity breaks for children

4 weeks ago

The 1960s barrow on Lark Lane that helps to fund activity breaks for children
The 1960s plant barrow outside the Old Police Station on Lark Lane

A barrow full of plants on Lark Lane is helping to raise funds for a community project which takes children and families on activity breaks to Wales.

The 1960s stall on Lark Lane, complete with its original paintwork, sells more than 1,000 plants every summer in return for donations to the Give Us A Break holiday project.

Give Us A Break gives children aged from 3 to teenagers the opportunity to get away, leave their city lives behind and learn more about the natural environment.

They take part in everything from coastal walks, farm visits and beach trips, to stargazing and discovering marine life on the Jurassic coasts of Cardigan Bay.

The breaks to beautiful Abersoch in North West Wales are for between four days and two weeks, depending on the time of year, and Give Us A Break can take groups three or four times a year.

All the costs – including accommodation, travel, food and activities – are covered by the project which is one of many run by Lark Lane Community Association, based at the Old Police Station.

And, to raise funds, volunteers stock the barrow with plants which have been grown at the centre’s horticulture sessions or donated by generous local growers, farms and garden centres.

Garry Lawler, who has run Give Us A Break for more than 20 years, says it’s a great way of supporting a community initiative which benefits so many young people.

He explains: “Within our horticulture project we run plant classes for children and summer schools, so we have youngsters come here to learn about horticulture. We plant seeds, grow them, pot up and then sell to the public. 

“Anyone who knows Lark Lane knows that as soon as the sun comes out, the people come out, so we can have up to 3,000 people passing through each day and even more when there’s an event on.

“We take that opportunity to pull the barrow out, put it out either at the end of Sefton Grove or on the Lane, and sell our plants. 

The beautiful beach at Abersoch where families can enjoy a break
The beautiful beach at Abersoch where families can enjoy a break

“The barrow is a 1960s original so it fits in with the culture and the architecture of the area and it’s become a familiar sight which people enjoy.

“Before Covid we could sell between 2,500 and 3,000 plants from the end of April to September, now it’s probably half that but it still helps raise the much needed funds that allow us to make those holidays happen.”

Garry says for children involved in Give Us A Break, this is often their first time away; their families could be struggling financially or might need additional support with children who have special needs.

“They are some of the most vulnerable in our community and they may never have experienced a marine or rural environment before so we want to be able to give them a holistic holiday which has an educational value, it’s learning outside the classroom.

“We’re lucky enough to be part of a Trust so we’re able to use the houses in Abersoch and give families a respite break in a quiet, comfortable, family atmosphere.

“In Abersoch, you see things you wouldn’t see in a normal Welsh environment, we take children stargazing, seeing how the tides work and the Jurassic coasts of Cardigan Bay.

“The local residents and businesses know me now because I’ve been taking kids there for years and they look forward to us coming because we always respect the environment. 

“It’s about giving children an escape, somewhere they can experience different surroundings, have some clean air, take time out from the city and the digital world and their day-to-day environment which can cause them to struggle.

“We save every penny we raise and squeeze the most out of what we have to be able to fund these holidays and every time we do it we get the most magnificent outcomes.”

For more on the Lark Lane Community Centre click here.

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