Prince Charles and Camilla praise community work in Bethnal Green

14:49 18 December 2012

Margaret Cox takes the Royal couple on a tour of Hollybush Estate. Picture: Isabel Infantes

Margaret Cox takes the Royal couple on a tour of Hollybush Estate. Picture: Isabel Infantes

Archant

Prince Charles and Camilla got a message from the people of the East End about how urban neighbourhoods can be reclaimed and antisocial behaviour tackled.

The royal couple was greeted by residents. Picture: Isabel InfantesThe royal couple was greeted by residents. Picture: Isabel Infantes

The Royal couple visited Bethnal Green’s Hollywell Estate today to meet families who grow their own food and have rekindled the East End’s famous community spirit.

They were shown round the estate’s ‘Rocky Park’ allotments which used to be a ‘drugs hang-out’ and its ‘Strawberry Fields’ orchard by Teesdale & Hollybush tenants association’s chair Margaret Cox, a ‘Big Lunch Champion’, then met volunteers packing Christmas hampers for pensioners.

“I explained how we reclaimed our neighbourhood where drugs once took place,” Margaret said.

“We were plagued by antisocial behaviour, but have now turned this estate into a caring, sharing, hospitable community.

The Duchess of Cornwall visited the Rocky Park Community Centre. Picture: Isabel InfantesThe Duchess of Cornwall visited the Rocky Park Community Centre. Picture: Isabel Infantes

“Rocky Park was a disused play area vandalised beyond repair, but we got funding and turned it into a community garden.

“Prince Charles could see the vision and said it was a good example a community working together.”

The estate now has a nature reserve and 79 growing spaces, thanks to Margaret’s work.

She has also built up a network of community volunteers like Garry Kennett, manager and odd-job man who runs the estate’s Kedleston Walk community centre.

The couple also greeted the Speaker Cllr Rajib Ahmed at the Rocky Park Community Centre. Picture: Isabel InfantesThe couple also greeted the Speaker Cllr Rajib Ahmed at the Rocky Park Community Centre. Picture: Isabel Infantes

Garry said: “I told Prince Charles about the vandalism we used to get—and how we got rid of it.

“He said it would be great if this could be pushed onto other areas of London. Camilla thought maybe be our enthusiasm can be passed on elsewhere, which was great to hear.”

The Royal couple met volunteers busy packing Christmas hampers for pensioners with fresh vegetables from the allotments, jam from fruit from the orchard and other festive goodies which has rekindled the spirit of neighbours looking after one another.

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