A PROJECT which transformed a disused piece of land in Shaw Heath into a community garden has won a regional award.

Residents behind the Secret Garden of Springfields project, which took a patch of ‘eye sore’ land in Springfields and made it space for the public to enjoy, scooped a Green Champions Award from Great Places Housing Group.

The gong is one of the housing group’s Community Stars Awards, which celebrates achievements across the north west and Yorkshire.

The Secret Garden group, headed up by Sarah and Samantha Pownall and Sarah Blaylock, and supported by Lucy Barton of Great Places, managed to raise £13,000 to back the project.

As well as the group’s achievement, Sarah also won the Volunteer Award while Lucy picked up the Staff Award.

Sarah said: “It feels great to be rewarded for our work on the garden. The project is finished now, and while it was a long and sometimes slow process, to have it finished feels amazing.

“The space looks completely different to when we first started and everyone’s worked so hard.

“To go up there twice though was just incredible – I feel like a star and I’ve got the star to prove it. I really didn’t expect it and it was so different the second time.

“The Volunteer Award was just me, on my own, being recognised for my achievements. It was surreal – I had such a good day.”

More than 150 Great Places customers attended the event, held annually at Gorton Monastery in Manchester.

Nominations for the shortlist were made by fellow residents, and also by staff.

Matthew Harrison, chief executive at Great Places, said: “Now in its fourth year, the Community Stars Awards is a chance for Great Places to thank the residents who have achieved great things, both personally and for their communities.

“We received more than 100 nominations for this year’s awards it was a real honour to be able to meet and congratulate the people behind these inspiring stories.”