Old Colwyn community lavender garden tribute to local heroine Sylvia

A new community garden has been named in honour of the “local heroine” who was the driving force behind the project.

The Lavender Garden at the Tan y Lan Community Centre in Old Colwyn was the brainchild of grandmother Sylvia Lavender who sadly passed away before it was finished.

Appropriately, the garden is festooned with sweet smelling lavender as a constant reminder of Sylvia, 67, who died of a heart attack last December.

The garden was officially opened by Clwyd West MP David Jones, who is also the Welsh Secretary, during a family fun day at the community centre.

There as guests of honour were Sylvia’s daughter, Hazel Roberts, son-in-law Brett Roberts and grandson Kasey-Joe Roberts.

Hazel says the garden is real tribute to her mum and her dedicated community work.

Sylvia, who had six children and ten grandchildren and step-grandchildren, was very active in the community and had been a board member of the housing association Cartrefi Conwy.

She and her friend and fellow community centre committee member Dawn Evans, secured £3,700 from Cartrefi Conwy’s Community Chest fund to create the garden. Sadly, Sylvia never saw her dream becoming a reality.

Hazel recalled “After mum’s husband died she threw herself into community work which she always enjoyed. Her phone never stopped ringing with tenants wanting advice and help on a whole range of issues.

“She was a Cartrefi Conwy board member and she loved working for tenants. She went to the community centre on a daily basis carrying out cleaning and maintenance duties as well as doing all the clerical work.

“She had the idea of turning, what was a bit of wasteland, into a community garden so everyone could benefit. She successfully applied for a Community Chest grant but sadly died before she could actually see the garden completed.

“Dawn carried on where mum left off and has worked so hard to get the garden completed. I pass it every day and it’s a really lovely way to remember my mum.”

MP David Jones knew Sylvia well and was a great admirer of unflagging commitment to the community.

He said: “She showed such wonderful community spirit and it was so sad to hear of her death. However, I have watched very closely as the community garden developed form a small idea to the wonderful resource we see today.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Dawn Evans who said the Lavender Garden was a fitting tribute to a wonderful and hard-working member of the community.

She said: “Sylvia was so full of energy and was always on hand to help any tenant or resident who needed help or advice.

“It was Sylvia who came up with the idea for the community garden and it was Sylvia that set about getting the Community Chest grant and began working on the design.

“Thanks to her vision what we now have is a garden that complements the community centre’s indoor facilities and provides an outside space that’s available for everyone to enjoy.”

Dawn took over plans for the gardens after Sylvia passed away and seeing the garden finished means a great deal to the whole Tan y Lan community.

She said: “We have a vegetable growing area which our Kidz Club are using to grow cabbage, strawberries, carrots, onions and tomatoes while we have soft fruit bushes such as blackcurrant and gooseberry.

“We thought it important our children can learn about how things grow and perhaps come to understand that food is indeed gown and doesn’t just appear on a supermarket shelf by magic.

“We have also introduced wild flowers and hope to support wildlife such as bees, butterflies, birds and nature in general. We have put up animal refuge boxes for bugs and butterflies and are already seeing the benefits. Of course we have included lots of lavender plants too.”

Dawn added: “We now have a soft area that is enclosed and is perfect for mums and toddlers to play safely in while anyone can use it as a community area.

“The plan now is to involve as many people as we can, particularly young people, to maintain the garden area. I’m so proud of what we have achieved and so pleased we have been able to name the garden in honour of Sylvia.”

Cllr Cheryl Carlisle, who is also secretary of the Tan y Lan Committee, said: “The garden is absolutely gorgeous and a real tribute to Sylvia Lavender and all the work she put in for the community.

“Sylvia would have been exceptionally proud to see what has been achieved. She was an amazing lady who is very much missed. Her death has left a huge void in the Tan y Lan community.”

She added: “We should also remember that the garden wouldn’t have been possible without Cartrefi Conwy and the grant they provided through their Community Chest scheme.

“The Tan y Lan community has a wonderful community centre and now a fabulous garden to compliment it.”

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