Staff from the company behind three of the most important recent construction projects in St Albans showed they are just as adept at gardening as they are with building work.

Over 40 employees from Willmott Dixon, which built the Westminster Lodge and Batchwood leisure facilities, and is currently on site with another leisure centre at Cotlandswick, swapped hard hats for boots and shovels to spend a day helping the St Albans charity Earthworks.

Earthworks offer trainees, often with learning difficulties or mental health problems, work experience in horticultural and land-based skills at its three-acre site in Hixberry Lane. It was here where a Willmott Dixon team led by managing director Chris Tredget showed their green fingered side by building and renewing 72 raised beds.

The team also did some heavy duty weeding and removed a large pile of clay soil which was preventing a disabled parking bay from being used. Alongside the physical help, the company donated £1,500 and also worked with several subcontractors who provided a skip, lorry, tools and materials – including 500m of wood and a whopping 45 wheelbarrows of bark chips.

The day of action was part of Willmott Dixon’s national trainee-led Charity Challenge Day which saw the company’s trainees arrange for teams from all parts of the country to carry out similar tasks for their local charities. Chris explains, “Our management trainee Ed Hindley did a great job arranging for so many of us to help Earthworks in what was a really enjoyable day, although there were some sore backs at the end. What inspired us was that we can see just what great work Earthworks does with so many people.”

Earthworks has several open days throughout the year where the public are able to visit and buy produce, which ranges from fruit and vegetables, herbs and plants, to their own apple juice, honey and chutney. The market garden produce is also sold at local farmers’ markets to raise funds for the project.

“We have been delighted by the work, attitude and enthusiasm of Willmott Dixon,” said Earthworks’ joint project leader Bianca Badham, who continues, “They got totally stuck in to what they needed to do and it has made a huge difference to our charity.”