Stafford and Rural Homes | Garden haven for wildlife receives recognition from SARH
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Garden haven for wildlife receives recognition from SARH

Creating a safe haven for newts, dragonflies and even a rare native reptile has earned a Stafford householder a prestigious award from the area’s leading provider of affordable places to live, Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH).


Nikki Candin from Doxey, Stafford, scooped top honours in the Best Wildlife or Eco Garden category in the annual Garden Competition.


Judged on the hottest day of 2019, the popular competition aims to celebrate the green-fingered skills of SARH customers who have made the most of their own garden or transformed communal areas to create beautiful spaces for all to enjoy.


Nikki, who became a SARH customer earlier this year when her home of 17 years was acquired by the housing association as part of a wider agreement with the Clarion Housing Group, said she was delighted at winning an award at her first attempt.


“We’ve always tried to attract wildlife into the garden and avoided using any pesticides, but after installing a pond we’ve seen frogs, newts, lots of insect species and even a slow worm,” Nikki said.


“When we spotted the competition on the SARH website we thought it would be a good opportunity to let people know just how many species can make a garden their home, but we never expected to win!”


Nikki received her award during a special event at the Stafford and Rural Homes headquarters in Parker Court, Stafford, where she was joined by dozens of other SARH customers, representatives of competition sponsors and the Mayors and Mayoresses of Stafford and Stone.


Guests at the event also enjoyed a talk by David Moreton, General Manager at Oak Tree Farm Rural Project, a recent recipient of a SARH C.A.R.E.S grant to help its work with around 60 people with learning disabilities. The SARH C.A.R.E.S Foundation was formed to support projects and groups in and around the Stafford Borough that help some of the most vulnerable in the community and welcomes bids from community projects and groups.


Other awards presented on the day included:

  • Best Lawn – Mr Hendrie, Hixon
  • Best Front Garden – Mr and Mrs Murfin, Great Haywood
  • Best Back Garden – Mr and Mrs Jarratt, Stafford
  • Most Creative Use of Space – Peter Ferrari, Stafford
  • Best Allotment Plot/Veg Garden – Shelley Mathias, Barlaston
  • Young Gardener – Alisha Robinson, Stafford, and Jake Rock, Stone
  • Shirley Wheat Award for Best Communal Garden –Flaxman Close, Stafford
  • Community Gardener of the Year – James Brown, Barlaston


All winners received a £50 voucher for B&Q and Nikki says she will use hers to start work on improvements to her front garden.


Presenting the awards, SARH Chief Executive Karen Armitage said the competition was one of the highlights of the organisation’s calendar.


“It really does give us the chance to engage with customers who share our vision of creating places to live, work and grow,” Karen said.


“Every year the standard gets higher and this year the judges have faced some very difficult decisions. A huge well done to all who took part.”

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