Thousands of bulbs have been planted in memory of a police officer who was dedicated to his community.
Some 10,000 spring bulbs will flower in the memorial garden for Pc Austin Jackson, who died last year aged just 38, leaving behind wife Simone and his four children Evan, Darcie, Imogen and Harriett.
St Matthews Big Local is transforming the park in Willow Street into a family-friendly play park in his honour.
And planting got underway yesterday as volunteers including children from Taylor Road Primary School, police officers, Pc Jackson’s family, residents and student volunteers from DMU helped plant tulips and daffodils.
Planting started at 9am when Chief Constable Simon Cole and City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby dug in to help, and continued throughout the day. The garden will feature bug hotels, wildlife areas and seating including a memorial bench named for Pc Jackson.
St Matthews Big Local is working with professional garden company Elizabeth Stone Gardens on the six-month project. A grand opening is being planned for the spring. The area was leased to St Matthews Big Local by Leicester City Council.
Simon Johnson, chairperson of St Matthews Big Local, said: “People told us they wanted somewhere safe for children to play and that’s what we are creating here.
“It has been incredible to see the community come together for this. Austin was instrumental in getting a multi-use games area up and running and he was passionate about getting children into playing sport.”
The games area which is free to the community, includes Cruyff Court (a 3G football pitch), a two-lane running track, a basketball court, a tennis court and an outdoor gym. It is opposite the new memorial garden.
Police support volunteer Harbans Kaur Thiaray said: “Austin was a very special person to me and lots of people here.
Among those lending a hand were students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Square Mile Project which supports communities across the city.
Student Scott Davies said: “I knew Pc Jackson from when I’ve volunteered in St Matthews before. He knew everyone here and really loved the community.”
Fellow student Katie Hughes added: “I’ve fallen in love with the city since coming to DMU to study and I want to do what I can to help projects like this in Leicester.”
St Matthews Big Local is a charity based on the St Matthew’s Estate. In March 2012 it was awarded £1 Million by the Postcode Lottery to use over 10 years.
Posted on Wednesday 21st November 2018