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INTERVIEW: Nanna's hopes for 'Forget-me-not' garden in memory of little grandson who died in gas explosion

George Hinds

The nanna of a little boy who died in a gas explosion has spoken of how she hopes creating a community garden will bring something positive from the terrible tragedy.

Two-year-old George lost his life in the blast at his home on Mallowdale Avenue in Heysham on May 16 2021.

Janice Studholme has spoken to Beyond Radio about the plans to create a community garden on the land where George's house once stood.

Janice said George's death was devastating for his parents Vicky and Steve, the whole family, and neighbours who live in the area.

"The devastation that happened, has affected a lot of the community," she said.

"The schools, the children, everybody's been affected.

"We'd like to change the land into a community garden.

"We just need to make it as positive as possible for people to use. We'd like to leave it open, and people will respect it, and come, and think about what happened in this area that night."

LISTEN to Janice talking about plans for the community garden

Janice is pictured below at the land on Mallowdale Avenue by a tree where George liked to play

The land where George's house stood, has been cleared ready for the garden, and plans have been drawn up.

The community has rallied round the family with fundraising events and offers of support from people and businesses.

"Vicky and Steve, myself and all the family, we really really can't thank everybody enough for the support we've had," said Janice.

"I just felt now was the time to move the land on, so that everybody can get some pleasure out of the garden.

"We loved it, Vicky and Steve loved it, and George played a lot of hours here. I'm sure he would have liked it to be back to a garden.

"Anybody with any problems they can come and sit in the garden. We're going to put seating areas, quiet areas, we're going to do a sensory garden for children. It will be wheelchair accessible. 

"We're just hoping that when we do get it sorted, that it will be here for many years to come in memory of my little grandson.

"George was a cheeky cheeky chappie. He was just getting into his little character at two years and 10 months. He was a lovely pleasant charming little man who would have made into a really nice young man."

A change of use planning application has now gone in to Lancaster City Council, asking for permission to create the memorial garden.

The plans, available at the council website, can be seen below.

 

Janice has asked the community to form a team to build the garden once planning permission is granted.

"We're trying to get our own DIY SOS team and it will be lovely because we could get all the community together," she said.

"Anyone who wants to come, we know you're all waiting. We can't do anything at the present time, we're just waiting for planning permission.

"Once it's safe for people to come in, we'll start putting little lists up of what we need. We need wood, screws, everything really.

"When we get all the walls built up and the ground sorted, we'll need people who can come and help us put plants in.

"We're trying to keep costs down. We have a fund there that we're so grateful for. But in time it will cost to maintain the garden. 

"George used to play in the tree but now we've realised it's not the right tree to have in. If there's anybody out there who can take the tree out for us, or help us in any way, I think that might be the best thing. That's the only thing that's left in the garden."

Here is how the land looked before it was cleared.

It was cleared in a day by local company LW Wilson, see below.

And here is how it looks now.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, pupils from nearby schools Mossgate and St Patrick's created artwork which has been turned into a mural on the fencing in front of the site.

Janice said to see the art, which the children made with help from artist Chas Jacobs, has been "very comforting".

"When I first came round after a few months and the pictures were all there, it was very comforting for me because it was the children and the pictures that have really kept me going," she said.

"We're going to incorporate them back into the garden, because these children were very young when this happened. Some were the same age as George. They are now six and seven year olds."

Janice has also called for the public's ideas of what to put in the garden.

There will be further updates on Beyond Radio and on the George's Forget-me-not Garden Facebook page which can be found HERE.

 

*Darren Greenham, then 44, of Ambleside Avenue, Lancaster, was jailed for 15 years in October 2022 after pleading guilty to George’s manslaughter.

Greenham cut a gas pipe in a property with an angle grinder, planning to steal the pipework, and bypassed the meter to steal gas.

Emergency services were called to reports of an explosion on Mallowdale Avenue in Heysham at about 2.40am on May 16, 2021.

When they arrived they found two houses collapsed, with serious damage to a third property. Many other nearby homes were also damaged.

Tragically George, aged just two years and 10 months, died as a result of the blast.

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