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Covid memorial gardener 'shocked' at award honour

"I was knocked off my feet" - those are the words of Tom Brown, a Bretton resident who has been selected to receive a Civic Award from Peterborough City Council. 
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A Peterborough resident from Blossom Court will receive a Civic Award for planting a memorial garden as a tribute to victims and key workers of coronavirus (Picture: Shariqua Ahmed)

You might remember, we featured Tom Brown on our site back in June, to applaud his efforts for planting a memorial garden in memory of all those who sadly lost their lives to coronavirus. 

Now his efforts have been recognised by local authorities, with Tom due to receive a Community Involvement Civic Award. 

During the recent Bretton Parish Council meeting, members were informed that Peterborough City Councillor and member of the Bretton Parish Council, Chris Burbage, and City Councillor, Scott Warren, both members of the Conservative Party, had nominated Tom for the award and were positive of the result. 

A keen gardener, Tom decided to clear out the overgrown green space at the back of his property in Blossom Court and plant at least a few dozen shrubs and flowers to make a pretty garden.  

The garden is also a tribute to all the key workers as a thank you for their efforts amidst the pandemic.  

A plaque attributing the key workers and victims of the virus has also been added to the newly-created garden.   

A handful of the plants were donated by members of public, but most of were paid for by Tom himself. 

He has been battling ill-health for a short while, but he is not the one to give up and hopes to keep his green fingers going as long as he can. 

Reacting to the award, Tom said: “I was so surprised, it came out of nowhere. Councillor Scott Warren knocked on my door to tell me, I first thought he was playing with me. I was knocked off my feet, was absolutely gobsmacked. 

“My family is very excited, my grandchildren especially. I told them and they are so delighted.” 

He said: “I am just out there doing my community work, was not expecting the award. People have been very appreciative. But this is my hobby and helps me stay busy. I am getting on a bit now but would like to keep going as long as I can. I have been under treatment for cancer for the last five years. But I enjoy my community work and hope to keep going.

“I am waiting for the weather to improve so I can get back to doing it more, it also depends on the restrictions."

So, how did Mr Brown celebrate this happy news? 

“I don’t know much about the ceremony or what’s going to happen. But I don’t drink much, however, on this occasion, I celebrated with a drink.” 

Councillor Chris Burbage, who represents the Bretton ward, said: “I am very pleased for Tom. Councillor Warren and myself nominated him. 

"He does such a brilliant job and works so hard to maintain the area. Heaps of praise for him. He is such a community minded-person. Really great to see such people around Bretton.” 

The parish council during the online meeting, were also very appreciative of Tom's work and efforts and are looking forward to working on more projects with him in the area.

This year’s winners were announced at Peterborough City Council’s full council meeting on Wednesday, January 27. A formal ceremony will be arranged in due course so the winners can be presented with their awards. However, due to the current pandemic restrictions this event will only take place when it is safe to do so.     

Councillor Peter Hiller, chairman of the council's Honours Panel, said: “We are living through very challenging times and it is extremely heart-warming to see how people in our communities have responded to help those in need.   
  
“The honours panel were very encouraged to see that the popularity of the awards has increased tremendously, with many more nominations being submitted. I would like to thank everyone who made nominations and I look forward to presenting awards to the winners, hopefully soon.”