Inmates at a north Northumberland prison have tried their hands at a spot of community-minded DIY, as part of a new initiative.
Prisoners at HMP Northumberland have been repairing and restoring close to 50 tired-looking benches and chairs from The Alnwick Garden.
It comes as part of the Bench Renovation Scheme - a new partnership between the iconic visitor attraction and the prison, based just outside Acklington.
The initiative, which is in its first year, has enabled the inmates to give something back to the community and develop skills in the process.
On Monday, the Duchess of Northumberland visited the prison to see how things are developing.
She was impressed with what she saw and threw her support behind the scheme.
She said: “I am delighted that The Alnwick Garden and HMP Northumberland are working together on the garden benches and seats.
“These have been renovated to the highest of standards and I am extremely grateful for all the hard work the inmates have done to transform the garden furniture which will, again, take pride of place in The Alnwick Garden.”
The initiative was born after the attraction’s head gardener, Trevor Jones, visited the prison to see its horticultural set-up.
And the partnership has blossomed since then, with future projects in the pipeline.
Mr Jones said: “‘Having visited the prison to see its horticultural facilities, I was most impressed with the training and opportunities offered to the inmates and suggested a programme of bench restoration.
“The oversized benches and chairs at the Garden are quite a feature and enjoyed by our visitors, but having stood out in all weathers for the past ten years needed a bit of TLC.
“The partnership evolved with the Garden supplying tired-looking benches that return after a short spell inside looking refreshed and fit for purpose to be enjoyed by our visitors.”
Matt Spencer, governor at the prison, said he was pleased that the scheme has been a success.
He said: “I am delighted that staff and prisoners at HMP Northumberland have been able to assist in this bench restoration project.
“For prisoners to be able to give something back to the community is important to show them that they can be valued and useful members of society – members of society who give and don’t just take.
“In this case they donated their hard work, time and effort to make the lives of local people just that little bit more enjoyable.
“Hopefully thinking of others in this way will help stop or at least reduce their likelihood of reoffending when released which is one of the reasons why HMP Northumberland exists.”