Alan George whose house on The Green in Martham was targeted by vandals - youths had smashed all his windows with stones. After hearing about what happened, a team from the Prince's Trust decided to clean up the mess and have spent this week at Alan's house working with him to replace the glass, tidy up and make the house safe again. Picture: James Bass
By LAUREN ROGERS
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Eighty-one-year-old Alan George of Martham was recently a victim of mindless vandalism, but young people on a Prince’s Trust course in Norwich are this week restoring his faith in others.
Three weeks ago, vandals targeted a Grade II listed house in the village of Martham.
The culprits, believed to be local youths, hurled stones at the house on White Street, smashing more than 30 window panes with little thought for the person who lived inside.
Eighty-one-year-old Alan George, who has lived at the property overlooking Martham’s village green for 75 years, was the victim of that mindless act of vandalism, but thanks to one group of young people his faith in others has been restored.
All this week, a group of 13 young people from the Prince’s Trust’s ‘Team Programme’ at City College in Norwich have been working at the house; repairing the windows, clearing the garden and making sure Mr George feels safe again.
Emma Roberts, team leader on the 12 week Prince’s Trust course, said the students, aged 16 to 25, were desperate to help when they heard what had happened.
She was initially contacted by police in Caister who had investigated the vandalism, but had not found the perpetrators. They did, however, think the Prince’s Trust team could help.
“It was the police, who know we are always looking for projects, who told me about a chap in a rural village who was being targeted by youths,” said Emma, who lives in Martham herself.
“The investigating officer had hidden behind a hedge and seen some young lads with stones in their hands, ready to throw.
“When he asked why they were doing it, they said they though the house was derelict.
“He contacted us because he thought if we could make the house look more lived in, it would deter youths and help make the man living here feel safe again.
“I told the guys on the course and it touched their hearts, I guess.”
The team needed £400 to carry out the work and within a matter of weeks raised £110 with a quiz and a cake sale.
The rest was donated by a benefactor and they arrived in Martham, paint brushes in hand, on Monday morning.
They will spent all week with Mr George and have a long list of jobs to complete.
As well as replacing the broken window panes, they have cleared the overgrown garden.
They are sanding down and repainting the window frames, replacing rotten fence posts, painting the railings and refurbishing the main gate.
While Martham DIY store has donated paint for free and Great Yarmouth Glass is giving the team a 50 per cent discount, the owners of the King’s Arms in Martham are allowing the youngsters to use the pub facilities and eat their lunch on the premises – hard graft works up an appetite.
Yesterday, villagers were dropping off half full cans of paint and thanking the Prince’s Trust for getting involved.
Sixteen-year-old Mollie Wakeman is finding her feet with help from the Prince’s Trust after becoming homeless.
The youngster, currently living in Old Catton, near Norwich, said: “It’s hard work – and I don’t like getting my nails dirty,” said Mollie.
“I don’t know too many people so I sincerely appreciate all the work they are doing on my behalf,” said Mr George.
“I could never have done it by myself and I would like to say thank you to them all.”