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Thetford’s police cadets help to improve the garden of woman with ill health

Gill Phillips, front 2nd right, with the Thetford police and police cadets, fire fighters, family and volunteers who have finished clearing her front garden before tackling the back. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Gill Phillips, front 2nd right, with the Thetford police and police cadets, fire fighters, family and volunteers who have finished clearing her front garden before tackling the back. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

For Gill Phillips and her late husband Theo their garden was their pride and joy.

Gill Phillips in her overgrown garden with her dog Loki, before the Thetford police cadets come in to clear it. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Gill Phillips in her overgrown garden with her dog Loki, before the Thetford police cadets come in to clear it. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The pair bought their house in Duncan Close, Thetford, because of the large space in which they could grow grape vines, apples and quinces.

But when Mr Phillips became ill with motor neurone disease and died six years ago, it became harder for Mrs Phillips to manage her garden after she too started to suffer with ill health.

Thetford police cadet Tegan Leigh, 14, centre; cadets staff volunteer, Jordan Turner, left, and Inspire Focus member, Kevin Barreto, who are clearing Gill Phillips' overgrown garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Thetford police cadet Tegan Leigh, 14, centre; cadets staff volunteer, Jordan Turner, left, and Inspire Focus member, Kevin Barreto, who are clearing Gill Phillips' overgrown garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

To help cut back the overgrown grass and weeds, to enable the 67-year-old to sit and enjoy a coffee outside, Thetford police cadets donned their gloves and picked up some tools.

Mrs Phillips said: “My husband and I bought this house because of the garden and we were both gardeners. A few years go it was all vegetables.

Thetford police cadets Anelise Fox, 14, left, and Hannah Street, 17, with PC Amy Lucas, community engagement officer, clearing Gill Phillips' overgrown garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Thetford police cadets Anelise Fox, 14, left, and Hannah Street, 17, with PC Amy Lucas, community engagement officer, clearing Gill Phillips' overgrown garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“If my husband could see it now he would cry. He loved that garden.”

Chief Inspector Paul Wheatley joins the police cadets and volunteers who are clearing Gill Phillips' overgrown garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Chief Inspector Paul Wheatley joins the police cadets and volunteers who are clearing Gill Phillips' overgrown garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The six cadets were accompanied by volunteers from Inspire Focus - a Thetford-based project supporting young people into education, careers and volunteering - as well as Sgt Michael Andrew and PC Mark Outlaw, who both gave up their free time, PC Amy Lucas and PSCO Maria Marquiss.

“It means the world and the police and cadets have been absolutely brilliant to me”, said Mrs Phillips, whose daughter and granddaughter Claire and Abie Sweeney also helped.

Abie Sweeney, Gill Phillips' granddaughter, joins with the Thetford police and police cadets and volunteers who are clearing Gill's overgrown garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Abie Sweeney, Gill Phillips' granddaughter, joins with the Thetford police and police cadets and volunteers who are clearing Gill's overgrown garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“A few of the cadets came to see me two weeks ago and I thought then what nice girls they were. They are doing this with a good will and it is lovely to see in youngsters.

“You hear such bad press about them and then you come across kids like this and it restores your faith.”

Gill Phillips with PC Mark Outlaw. Picture: PC Amy Lucas Gill Phillips with PC Mark Outlaw. Picture: PC Amy Lucas

Plants and tools were donated by the town’s B&Q and Tesco supplied refreshments.

Chief Inspector Paul Wheatley attended between meetings to give some assistance and a crew from Thetford fire station popped along to say hello and offer support.

Chf Insp Wheatley said: “I think it is a fantastic project. It is just another example of the youth in Thetford and the cadets doing something for the community. There are some really good young people out there.”

Having been unable to venture out in her garden because of its unevenness, Mrs Phillips said she is now looking forward to spending time out there with her cocker spaniel Loki.

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