Film star flowers: new station partnership blooms at New Barnet

Great Northern passengers at New Barnet station in North London are enjoying fairy-tale swathes of silk flowers, thanks to parent company Govia Thameslink Railway's new Station Partner, The Flower Bank, a New Barnet social enterprise. The unique enterprise re-uses and recycles surplus and used flowers from supermarkets, fellow florists and the corporate world.

The Flower Bank's founder, professional florist Ursula Stone, has built a considerable reputation for her zero-waste, community focussed approach. Greens Team, specialist set designers at Pinewood Studios, knew of Ursula's work and offered The Flower Bank the artificial flowers from the set of a major production once filming had finished.

Greens Team kindly delivered the huge drifts of flowers over the summer. Ursula and her dedicated team of volunteers are arranging them creatively into hanging baskets, window boxes and planters for the station. Adhering to her zero-waste policy, Ursula has had the planters and window boxes created from old wooden pallets, and local branches of Marks and Spencer and Morrisons have donated the hanging baskets.

More than 30 containers have been installed so far, with more to come.

Ursula said: "Just after Greens Team got in touch to offer this fantastic donation, I saw that Govia Thameslink were inviting bids for community project grants. I missed the deadline, but their community relations and station teams were interested in my sustainable approach and asked if The Flower Bank would like to be an official Station Partner. The station is only a five-minute walk from my shop and I saw it as a great place to make a big public flower display at the heart of the community.

"This is a total team effort, from Greens Team and their amazing donation to the small army of volunteers making containers and bringing the displays to the station. The only thing we've had to pay for is the quick-drying cement the flowers are set into in the window boxes. Because they're artificial they don't even need water!"

Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said: "We're so delighted to welcome The Flower Bank as our latest official station partner, and for our station to be one of the community places that this unique organisation has chosen to brighten up with their beautiful displays of re-used flowers.

"We owe a huge thank-you to Ursula and her team of volunteers for bringing a touch of screen magic to our passengers' journeys, and to Greens Team at Pinewood for their generous and thoughtful donation. The Flower Bank's activities are a perfect fit with our aims for cutting waste, sustainability, and above all, cheerful customers. Through these partnerships we aim to forge stronger local links and make our stations more valuable, sustainable assets for the communities they serve."

The social enterprise receives donations of real or artificial blooms from a wide range of sources including corporate events, film sets, fashion shoots, supermarkets and weddings. The Flower Bank works with volunteers and young offenders to re purpose the flowers and donate them in turn to residential care homes and the local community.

Ursula added: "We run flower arranging classes in residential care homes and day centres. The colour and the smell of flowers seems to really help the residents and working with flowers seems to have a restorative effect. I love to see the joy it brings. It's clear from the comments of passengers at the station that the flowers are boosting mental wellbeing there too - commuters have sought me out to say how happy they feel!"


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