Thetford youngsters give town’s station a brighter future

The platforms at a Norfolk station are now a much brighter place thanks to the efforts of local teenagers involved with a group that looks after the station.

The volunteers from Thetford Youth Council have completed the first phase of work to spruce up Thetford station by planting a colourful flower bed with perennials including lupins and marigolds on the Norwich-bound platform as part of the Adopt-A-Station initiative organised by train operator Greater Anglia.

Now the youngsters, including Omar Atiallah, 17 and Cristiano Alves, 19 will be moving on to remove brambles and weeds from a 78 metre section of hedge further along the platform to make the station more appealing to visitors and to help encourage tourists to visit Thetford.

The group started the project, organised with the support of Friends of Thetford Station, in March because they wanted to give something back to the railways and help create a more positive image for their community.

Omar said: 'It looks lovely now that the flowers have been planted in the bed and there is still more work to do further up the platform. It is about giving something back to the railways and I like the railways, so I thought I would help out.'

He has been working three or four hours a day doing maintenance and helping to tidy and clean the station platforms and waiting rooms.

Cristiano added: 'It makes us feel useful in some way. It gives us self-confidence and gives the station a whole new image.'

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Kerri Worrall, a media officer for Greater Anglia, said the Adopt-A-Station initiative was designed to encourage communities to take on the responsibility for maintaining their stations.

And she felt the Thetford scheme was not only improving the station, but also helping to deter anti-social behaviour and vandalism because communities tended to respect their stations more when they were responsible for maintaining them.

She added: 'I think the work they are doing here is amazing and it is on such a big scale. Now when you walk down the path to the station you can see the difference between the weeds on one side and the flower bed on the other. It makes a difference to how people feel when they come here to visit.'

Mike Wilkinson, a co-ordinator for Friends of Thetford Station, thanked Shadwell Stud Nursery and Thetford Garden and Allotment Club for donating gardening tools and plants, adding: 'It is about making a difference and this is just the start of the work.'

Further improvements will be made to the waiting room and an information board will be provided.

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