young girl laughing using splat wall mayor of ipswich hamil clarke with roger osborneMore than 600 people celebrated the Community Garden’s fifth birthday on Saturday, with music, dance and fun activities, launched by the Mayor of Ipswich and new patron Roger Osborne, who cut the ribbon on the giant birthday cake.

The crowd then sang happy birthday to a project which has grown from an abandoned corner of an allotment field into the thriving community resource it is today.

Mayor Councillor Hamil Clarke said: “It is a great honour to be invited to do the honours what is a very special birthday celebration. The People’s Community Garden is five years old – and they say that from little acorns, mighty oaks grow. Well, when we look back to 2008 it hasn’t taken long for the small seeds planted then to have grown into something which is a real treasure for the community. I would like to thank ActivLives for involving people of all ages and from all walks of life and getting them together to develop and nurture this wonderful green space in our town.”

ActivLives is delighted that Roger Osborne, who scored the winning goal for Ipswich Town Football Club in the 1978 FA Cup Final, has agreed to support a charity which itself sets high goals in all its various projects.

Visitors enjoyed looking around the garden, in full summer bloom, and buying plants grown both at Maidenhall and at Chantry Walled Garden. They sought advice from Suffolk County Council’s Master Composters, and some visited the project’s community apiary and watched the hives being opened by the garden’s Bee Team.

Teas and homemade cakes were served at the pop-up café by ActivLives’ Keep on Rockin’ project, where singers and musicians provided excellent acoustic entertainment. A special allotment cake, made by staff member Laura Gill, was pride of the raffle table, along with a fair-trade hamper donated by the East of England Co-operative Group. Events volunteer Cheryl Roper, who organised the tombola, has raised a substantial amount for the project through match-funding from the Post Office, where she works.

giant candles standing in garden


Kevin from Ipswich Hospital Radio, broadcasting live from the event, presented ‘Cake of the Day’, eagerly judged by Lead Horticultural Site Co-ordinator Ric Staines, who this year chose the coffee and walnut cake.

Children watched a lively Punch and Judy show, made party hats and bounced on the inflatables, as well as joining in the children’s races – with their faces painted with flowers and butterflies.

Stalls included the Polish community, serving a delicious vegetable stew, the Indian community with jewellery and clothes, and Sammy and Rob with personalised gift cards. Ipswich Wildlife Group helped visitors make bird boxes, while Transition Ipswich showed people just how much energy it takes to press a drop of oil. MP Ben Gummer had a go! Maidenhall Allotments had its usual impressive array of produce and preserves for sale, donated by allotment holders.

alex stockley band performing

Maidenhall Residents’ Association were in full swing at the Bowls Pavilion, where people watched bands on the electric stage, and perused the book and card stall and art exhibitions – botanical art by students of Sara Harrington and photographs of the allotment site by former UCS art student Andy Ingate.

huge vote of thanks goes to all ActivLives’ staff and volunteers, especially those at the garden itself, who helped make the day as successful as it was. Particular thanks goes to young staff member Sam Thurlow and UCS intern Katie Carman, who rose to the challenge of organising their first big event of this sort. Thanks, too, to Ipswich Borough Council, who supported the event. As the icing on the cake, the sun shone all day.