Wanted: Old van to get gardeners back on the road

Students of a cash-strapped Highgate charity are desperate to get their green fingers on a set of wheels. The Harington Scheme, which runs gardening courses for young people with learning difficulties, needs another van to help transport it

Ben McPartland

Students of a cash-strapped Highgate charity are desperate to get their green fingers on a set of wheels.

The Harington Scheme, which runs gardening courses for young people with learning difficulties, needs another van to help transport its gardeners around Highgate.

During a spate of attacks in March last year, vandals torched one of their three vans and bosses do have not enough cash to replace it.


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Scheme chairwoman Leila Hodge said: "Thankfully we caught the people who did it but unfortunately we could not get a new one.

"The insurance only offered us £1,000 so we could not buy a new one with that amount of money. That's always the problem."

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The Harington Gardeners, a branch of the scheme which takes students out to work on residents' gardens, have been struggling on since the loss.

"In the winter we just about manage but in the summer, when there is more work and more teams, we need another van," said Ms Hodge.

"Last summer they had to walk to a lot of the gardens and carry all their tools with them but that is obviously not practical. So getting another van became top of the list of priorities."

With a new van costing about £10,000, Ms Hodge is appealing to motorists who might be willing to donate an old one in good working order. "We are not fussy - we would just be grateful for anything that works," she said.

The scheme, which also faces trying to raise £250,000 for a new classroom, are being given a helping hand by aptly named runner.

Morley Speed, from Highgate Close, will run the London Marathon on April 13 to raise money for the charity.

Mr Speed, a banker who works in the City, said: "It's a great cause. I heard about these vandals who burnt out the van so I just thought it would be great if I could raise some money to help.

"I normally run for a charity but this year I wasn't going to until Leila Hodge had a word me. She was very persuasive.

"We have employed the Harington Gardeners in the past and they always do a good job."

An experienced runner, Mr Morley will be attempting his seventh marathon this year.

Asked if his name added any extra pressure on the day, he joked: "I try to keep quiet about it. I don't put it on my running vest like the other runners do."

ben.mcpartland@hamhigh.co.uk

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