Belfast Telegraph

Maghaberry prisoners receive award from National Trust for garden project at jail

From left: Ronnie Armour, director general of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Tammi Peek, National Trust volunteering and partnerships manager, and Richard Whiting, Belfast Met horticulture trainer at Maghaberry with prisoners
From left: Ronnie Armour, director general of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Tammi Peek, National Trust volunteering and partnerships manager, and Richard Whiting, Belfast Met horticulture trainer at Maghaberry with prisoners

By Staff Reporter

A show garden created by prisoners in Maghaberry has won a National Trust Gold Award.

Using a range of recycled materials and bedding plants grown in the maximum security facility, 14 prisoners built the garden which features a train - the Maghaberry Flyer - and track, reflecting their journey from incarceration to release.

The work was carried out as part of the Horticulture City and Guilds course delivered at the prison by the Belfast Met.

Mark Holmes, head of prisoner activities at Maghaberry, said: "The prisoners' commitment and enthusiasm for this project has been fantastic. Their skills and hard work over a seven-month period has not only turned a neglected area of the prison into a beautiful garden, but their efforts have also been recognised by the National Trust.

"The whole project has been a unique and special way to engage the men in purposeful activity, as well as provide them an opportunity to gain skills and qualifications, which might lead to employment."

Richard Whiting, the horticulture trainer working for the Belfast Met at Maghaberry, added: "The purpose of the garden is to give the men somewhere to sit and reflect, to inspire thoughts of the future."

Presenting the Gold Award Certificate to Maghaberry Prison, National Trust judge, Tammi Peek, described the new garden as "wonderful".

Director general of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Ronnie Armour, said: "Part of the work of the Prison Service is to challenge people in our care and support them to change. Encouraging them through vocational skills will also help them when they are released, reducing the risk of re-offending and help to build a safer community."

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