National Gardening Week with Vicky, our Head of Stakeholder and Community.
More than ever we have come to rely on our gardens as outlets to enjoy ourselves and connect with mother nature. Many of us have rediscovered our love for gardening, whilst others have taken it up as a new hobby to connect with nature and to help improve our mental and physical wellbeing.
This National Gardening Week, we caught up with our Head of Stakeholder and Community, Vicky, to get to know her a little more, understand more about her role and how she can help you get involved with gardening also (even if you don't have one)!
Vicky, can you tell us a little more about yourself?
Hi, I’m Vicky and I have been the Head of Stakeholder and Community for London Northwestern Railway since 2018. I live in Cheshire but look after the entire network which means that one day I can be working in Watford and the next I’m on my way to meetings in Liverpool.
What hobbies do you have?
In my spare time, I enjoy keeping fit, I’ve got a ‘workout group’ with three of my friends and we meet up two to three times a week to do CrossFit workouts, I also really enjoy running and going for walks with my dog. I’m a bit of a sucker for self-indulgence and love booking a bit of spa time with either my mum or friends.
What does your job entail?
In this role, I manage the businesses relationship with our key external stakeholders, for example, local authorities, rail user groups and community partners. It’s great working with these groups as they are so passionate about improving rail services in their local areas.
I work side by side with the Marston Vale, Abbey Line and North Staffordshire Community Rail Partnerships. These Community Rail Partnerships bring a wide range of diverse groups together to deliver community engagement and promotional activities in partnership with the train company.
I also have the pleasure of working with over 100 station adoption volunteers from across the London Northwestern Railway network who are wholeheartedly committed to improving their stations by making them more attractive and welcoming to passengers.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is the variety each day can bring, the amazing projects I get to work on and the volunteers who dedicate so much of their time to the station adoption scheme .
Why should people take part in the Station Adoption Scheme?
The Station Adoption scheme is open to everyone and we’re always looking for more people to get involved. The scheme enables individuals or groups to adopt their own local railway station and make a massive difference whether that’s through planting, painting, creating artwork or engaging with the railway’s diverse communities. It’s an opportunity to create long-lasting friendships, as well as developing partnerships with other local organisations. It allows groups to connect their communities to the railway and play a key role in delivering projects which promote inclusion, diversity, creativity, sustainable travel, as well as making improvements and bringing stations back to life.
What has been your favourite adoption group project?
I’ve been working with the Friends of Berkhamsted since 2019 and the transformation of the area outside the station has been remarkable. They have spent the past two years working on the flower beds outside the station, which, as you can see from the photos, have made a huge difference.
The volunteers have received huge praise from passengers and local residents, some of who have even dropped cakes off for them to enjoy during a working party day. These projects gave the group something to focus on throughout last year’s lockdown and many of the group would come down and do a bit of weeding as part of their daily walk.
As it’s National Gardening Week, do you like gardening yourself?
I love gardening!! I lived in London for 15 years and many of my homes didn’t have a garden, so gardening wasn’t something I indulged in. But my husband and I bought our house three years ago and I’ve totally fallen in love with gardening. In the first year, I started off growing some beetroot, carrots and radishes which to my disbelief grew really well and tasted good. The next year I branched out and tried growing tomatoes, beans, sweetcorn, butternut squash, courgette, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. There have been some great successes such as my sweetcorn and the beans, but there have also been some epic failures - I still can’t seem to get my butternut squash to grow any bigger than the size of a grape!
Wildlife is really important to me, so I have lots of feeding stations for the birds and we inherited a little pond in the garden so I’ve been trying to make it as attractive as possible for frogs, we’ve even turned one area of the garden into a wildflower patch to try and attract more bees and butterflies. In the past 12 months, I’ve turned my focus to growing flowers from seed and taking cuttings from existing plants in my garden – I don’t think I’ll be entering any competitions just yet and for the time being, I’m happy to pick up some gardening tips from Monty Don on Gardeners World.