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Cafe is finishing touch for Whickham community garden

A CAFE which was opened yesterday is the icing on the cake for a community garden created from wasteland.

Dave Peacock and Ian Watson in the garden

A CAFE which was opened yesterday is the icing on the cake for a community garden created from wasteland.

Eleven years ago Dave Peacock had the idea of fashioning what is now the Hermitage Garden on Front Street in Whickham in Gateshead.

The land had once been the Oriental- style 19th Century garden of a wealthy businessman and gradually its features have been replicated.

Community stalwart Hazel Watson supported Mr Peacock in his efforts and yesterday the new garden cafe was dedicated to her.

Mrs Watson, who died earlier this year, was chairman of the ladies club at the adjacent community centre and for 30 years served on its management committee. She was also president of the Hermitage Garden.

At the opening yesterday was her son, Ian Watson, who contributed £50,000 towards the cost of the cafe.

He runs Hadrian Healthcare, which has 10 care homes in the North, including Manor House in Whickham

Ian said: “I have lived in Whickham all my life and my mother was always involved in the community.

“I never thought the garden would get off the ground but now everything that was dreamed off has fallen into place.

“The garden is now magnificent and the cafe will provide an income for its maintenance.”

Dave Peacock, who received an MBE for his garden efforts, said: “ Hazel was behind me from the very beginning of the garden.

“She was a staunch supporter and a grand lady.

“The cafe is the final project and is definitely the icing on the cake. It is getting harder and harder to raise funds and any profits from the cafe will go back into the garden.

“Eleven years ago I never dreamed of a garden like this. It is absolutely wonderful.”

The cafe will be open seven days a week between 10am and 4pm and will be run entirely by volunteers. The cafe, which can seat 30, was officially opened yesterday by the Mayor of Gateshead Malcolm Brain.



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