Apple trees planted in memory of Jill Dando
PUBLISHED: 07:55 19 October 2019
A primary school became the first in the area to create a garden for youngsters in memory of one of Weston's most famous faces.
The Jill Dando apple orchard officially opened at St Anne's Primary School, in West Wick, on Friday to mark world mental health day.
Jill's brother Nigel helped plant the first trees, watched on by 30 student Jill Dando News Centre reporters from schools in The Priory Learning Trust (TPLT).
News centres were built in schools in honour of the former Mercury reporter to aid the next generation of journalists.
More than 50 trees will now be planted at the six schools across the trust.
Sanders Garden Centre donated the trees while TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh will help green-fingered students with advice on how to plant them and see them flourish.
Nigel said: "This is a brilliant initiative to promote the work of the trust and to remember Jill at the same time.
"Jill died 20 years ago but her memory lives on through these schemes and for it to carry on like this with such a project is a real achievement, she would be chuffed.
"It's great to have Alan on board, too, with his support and advice on how to produce the perfect crop."
Alan helped create Jill's Garden in Weston's Grove Park in 2001.
The planting coincided with TPLT naming its charity of the year, Burnham-based In Charley's Memory.
The charity helps the wellbeing of hundreds of youngsters across Somerset, encouraging, training and giving ongoing counselling support for as long as needed.
Its operations manager Dawn Carey committed to having counsellors available for students.
She said: "More than 5,000 students that are part of the trust will have access to help from us this year.
"The demand for our services is rising rapidly and the more finance we get, the more young people we can help."
Neville Coles, executive principal of TPLT, added: "In Charley's Memory is a wonderful charity and we are so excited to be able to partner with it in this way.
"Last year we raised £20,000 for Weston Hospicecare and we hope this year to again raise large amounts of money for a brilliant cause."