Harry Is Coast & Country’s ‘Volunteer In A Million’

Coast & Country is celebrating the hard work and dedication of one of its long-standing volunteers whose green fingered talents and skills as a local historian have helped turn a community resource centre into an increasingly popular amenity for local people.

Volunteer Harry Slattery, aged 75, has been a stalwart of Coast & Country’s Westfield Farm since 2013 and has made a huge difference over the last few years at the beautifully restored Grade II Listed building. The facility is Coast & Country’s flagship community training and resource centre.

Located in Dormanstown, ‘The Farm’ is a one-stop-shop that provides the kind of high-quality advice, guidance, training and support that helps people get back into work. The facility is also a UK Online Centre, which gives people access to the Internet. It also offers digital training for all levels of ability.

Since starting to volunteer at Westfield Farm in 2013, Harry has been running training courses for volunteers and service users to enable them to gain valuable experience in planting, growing and even cultivating small areas.

Harry also directly helps charitable causes by growing vegetables for the Redcar foodbank and selling vegetables and bedding plants with the money raised going to benefit a variety of local charities.

One of Harry’s other talents is making recycled Christmas cards and creating beautiful paintings of local landmarks, which he also sells to raise money.

Barry McBride, Westfield Farm Co-ordinator, said: “Harry has been one of our most loyal volunteers and has made a huge impact on both the gardens and in helping other volunteers and local people. He really is a volunteer in a million.

“Harry grows veg from seeds at home and brings them into The Farm to finish off the growing process. The veg is sold and the money is divided and donated to The Redcar Area Food Bank and a charity of Harry’s choice. Harry also grows bedding plants in our poly tunnel, with all money raised donated to various charities.

“Over the years, Harry has become well respected by the local residents and the local school. He has created a leaflet detailing the local history of Dormanstown with Dormanstown Primary School, and has received a Gold certificate of achievement from Northumbria in Bloom.

“Harry is a friendly, interesting man with lots of stories to tell and is a real asset to Westfield Farm. The Westfield Farm Garden wouldn’t be the same without Harry’s green fingers, love for The Farm and his good nature. His passion for gardening can really be seen by all who visit The Farm.

“Sadly Harry’s wife passed away in January 2015, so Harry started to spend more and more time at The Farm. He joined The Friends of Westfield Farm, helping with events, selling his plants and doing a lot of baking to raise money for the group’s fund to further benefit the community.”

Harry says “I love the friendly atmosphere of The Farm and enjoy passing on my knowledge of gardening to others, young and old. I love the feeling of making the gardens look their best.”

Harry has recently been awarded his Food Hygiene Certificate and now plans to help out with cooking for The Farm. After his last meeting with The Friends of Westfield Farm, Harry has also decided to become an Events Co-ordinator.

The Farm is open to everyone regardless of whether they’re a tenant of Coast and Country. Visitors can use the facilities from 10.00am to 2.00pm on a drop-in basis, and by appointment at all other times.

Photo: Harry Slattery, aged 75, has been a stalwart of Coast & Country’s Westfield Farm since 2013.