Volunteer weeding group is cleaning up Thetford one street at a time
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
When Jane Varanand returned from the Hampton Court Flower Show in July, she tried to look at Thetford through a tourist’s eyes - and didn’t like what she saw.
With funding cuts sapping councils’ ability to keep the town looking presentable, weeds and other unwanted plants had run amok over pavements, verges and public spaces.
But rather than let the weeds win, Jane fought back.
Starting with three other volunteers following an appeal on Facebook, her team set out to clean up areas of the town most in need.
And after turning areas of Thetford town centre from grotty to gleaming, the group came up with a name designed to make people take notice - Sex, Rock and Roll and Weeding.
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Their regular Thursday morning clean-ups have now swelled in numbers, with 15 volunteers taking part in the latest spruce of the Haling Path area.
Ms Varanand said she was delighted with how the groups had grown: “We’ve got fabulous people here now and we’re getting massive support from people passing by, and on our Facebook page.
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“We have been gung ho about getting involved, and thrown ourselves into cleaning the town up. We know how beautiful Thetford can be and want it looking its best.
“We also understand how cuts in Government funding have meant that the councils can’t do as much as they used to, so why not help out?”
The group’s impact has not just been to clean up Thetford’s streets. Its members have included people making the most of an opportunity to get out and do something positive for their community.
Kaye Bloomfield, 34, has terminal lung cancer, and joined the group in September. She now volunteers every week and said her illness had given her a greater appreciation of her home town.
“Thetford is a beautiful place - people just need to open their eyes to see it. But when it’s covered in weeds and trash, it doesn’t look so lovely.
“When I first had treatment I would lay in bed and hear the birds singing outside, just wanting to be out there. This is a great chance to get out here and help the town look as it should,” she said.
Several volunteers a week come from John Room House, a supported housing scheme. Suzi Kimble, a support worker, said the group gives a chance for residents to engage: “We like to get them out and involved in thing and this gives a foothold out in the community.
“It’s got them out in the air and mixing with other people, and they feel like they are doing something worthwhile.”
The Sex, Rock and Roll and Weeding group meets every Thursday morning from 9am at different designated locations.
To get involved, go to the group’s Facebook page or call Jane Varanand on 07853 290381.