Award winning Northampton library gardener fears his hard work will go to waste

Pictured (left) chair of St James residents' association Graham Croucher with the librarian for St James and Roy on the far right after winning gold in the Northampton Britain in Bloom contest in 2015.
Pictured (left) chair of St James residents' association Graham Croucher with the librarian for St James and Roy on the far right after winning gold in the Northampton Britain in Bloom contest in 2015.

A green-fingered library user, who has won three awards after revamping a once unloved garden in St James, hopes the community can keep his book-lender open.

Former printer-turned-gardener Roy Eaglestone, 71, has lived in St James for 40 years and was asked to provide some much needed TLC to St James Library garden in 2014, after he retired.

Roy Eaglestone has live in St James for 40 years but says he has used Northamptonshire library services for a further 10 years and will be sad to see them go.

Roy Eaglestone has live in St James for 40 years but says he has used Northamptonshire library services for a further 10 years and will be sad to see them go.

In a four-year clean-up effort, Roy has revamped the garden, almost single-handedly, and has paid for plants and seeds out of his own money, for the benefit of the community.

St James Library is one of the 21 small libraries across the county to close as part of controversial £40 million cuts. Groups interested in taking over their libraries in Northamptonshire will need to have a formal bid ready in little over two months' time.

Roy said: "I think it's a disgrace - libraries are needed for education more than anything.

"All of the people that use the flats around there all come in, we all know each other, it's like a family really.

The garden before the renovation at St James Library.

The garden before the renovation at St James Library.

"The elderly use it and disabled, they have even had people down there from the old peoples home to use the garden. It's not just a library - it's a community."

During the summer months, Roy leads the 'Pot It Grow It' course for children where they can attend the library for two hours a week and learn how to grow fruit, vegetables, herbs and plants, while accompanied an adult.

After the produce has been grown children use the little kitchen inside the library to make pancakes and eat their freshly grown strawberries, with ice cream.

Roy, who has led the way in teaching children how to garden, said the whole community will suffer if the doors close.

Roy pictured hard at work in the garden - compared to the size of a garage.

Roy pictured hard at work in the garden - compared to the size of a garage.

Since he has given a helping hand at St James Library, he has personally handcrafted papier-mâché Peter Rabbit bunnies for Beatrix Potter's anniversary, helped children to make a mosaic for the garden and has won three awards for his beautiful garden - one being gold in the Northampton in Bloom contest back in 2015.

The authority is now offering community groups the chance to take over running individual facilities under service agreements.

Now the garden has flower beds and an arbour seat for the children to use.

Now the garden has flower beds and an arbour seat for the children to use.