A team of BP energy executives based around the globe teamed up mid-April to help Toothill Junior Youth Club create an even more inviting environment for children at the Toothill Farm Centre.
The club was chosen from a dozen other projects around the country to receive a Groundforce type makeover during the two day team building exercise involving high flying BP staff who are usually stuck behind computers in high-rise tower blocks in different cities around the world, or on aircraft travelling to discuss multi-million dollar energy supply investment projects.
Instead the 16 men and women from London, Singapore, South Africa, Hong Kong and the USA got stuck into landscaping the farm garden, building a fence, making raised vegetable planters, laying a concrete path and erecting a wendy house.
Team leader Robert Lawson said it the group only meets face to face every six months and the Toothill project was their first community initiative. "It?s been much better than the team building exercises we often do like building rafts or negotiating obstacle courses. Working with the club has been great fun because different people have worked together for the first time; its been a good way of discovering how we can all contribute, to the needs of the community and also strengthen our team." Shiv Baloo, who is based in Singapore, said he had not done any gardening for years said, "its been good to turn an empty space into something that the children can use for their club activities."
Stacey Peterson, who was six months pregnant, flew in from Houston with her husband, drove down the M4 and was immediately put to work planting flowers. "It?s good to know that our efforts will be used by the children for some time to come; I hope they?ll be able to enjoy the potatoes and lettuces we planted together."
Children used the visitors to explore world geography by plotting the distances they had to travel on a map and chatting about what its like in other countries.
Youth Club secretary Mavis Read said her volunteer team greatly appreciated the BP workers efforts. "Considering they?re in the office most of the time I think there were some really stiff muscles. We?ve been honoured to have such a diverse group of people here. They worked so hard and did a fantastic job."
At an opening ceremony attended by the Mayor of Swindon Ray Fisher, Robert Lawson made a surprise announcement that BP would compliment the contribution of staff time with a donation of ?1,500 to the junior youth club.
Eighteen months ago Swindon Council was going to evict the junior youth club from Toothill Farm. But the council?s youth service has taken over the farm and are going to spend ?12,000 on repairs.