Farewell to community stalwart Andrea as group pledges to continue allotment legacy

Andrea Hardy
Andrea Hardy

A much-loved Sheffield community worker whose passion for gardening inspired her to set up a popular allotments scheme has died aged 57.

Andrea Hardy was known for her work in the Firth Park area, including the Trade Base Community Allotment Project, which allows local people to take part in growing organic food.

Many of the project’s users have physical or mental health problems, such as learning disabilities, as well as experiencing unemployment or social exclusion.

Andrea’s friends said she will be ‘remembered with love and affection by many people in Sheffield’, and that Trade Base has now been renamed HOPE - Hardy’s Organic Produce for Everyone - in an effort to remember her and continue her legacy.

Andrea was born in Pitsmoor, but spent most of her life on the Shiregreen estate, apart from the first years after her marriage to husband John, when she lived in Broomhall.

Sheena Clarke, from Trade Base, said: “It was in Broomhall that she first became involved in community work, first helping to run the crèche in the Broomspring Centre and then getting involved in other projects for the under-fives and older children.

“The Broomspring Centre was to become the springboard for Andrea’s involvement in community work in other areas in the city including Foxhill, the Wensley Estate, Burngreave and the Flower Estate.

“Everywhere she worked, whether in a voluntary or paid capacity, she was renowned for her dedication, hard work and willingness to put others before herself.”

For the last 15 years Andrea focused her energies on community projects in Firth Park.

In 2000, together with her good friend Betty Smalley, she established the Firth Park Festival and was a leading light in organising the event with other members of the local community until 2010.

In 1999, Andrea helped to launch the Trade Base Trust which operated from the Old Library on Firth Park Road.

The building became the focal point for a wide range of community activities which included a recycling centre selling second hand goods, adult education classes, a lunch club, parent and toddler groups and a host of other self-help groups.

In 2004 Andrea’s love for gardening blossomed into the Trade Base Community Allotment Project that now bears her name.

Sheena continued: “From small beginnings HOPE has grown year by year and now has four plots on the High Wincobank Allotment Site on Windmill Lane, one of which has specially constructed raised beds that are suitable for people with mobility problems.

“At the allotment, local people from all parts of the community and with diverse levels of ability and disability work together to grow organic fruit and vegetables, caring and supporting each other and our local environment.

“We were guided by Andrea’s vision while she was with us and now following the example she set us, in fond memory of her.”

Sheena said the allotments initially required a lot of work to return them to a suitable condition for growing food.

“Initially it was necessary to bring the allotments back into use, and this required a lot of determination, energy and belief,” she added.

“It is a thriving project and is proof that, given a chance, an organisation such as Trade Base can radically improve the situation for a number of local people.

“The production of fresh fruit and vegetables means that more people are benefiting from healthy eating, getting exercise in the open air, exchanging ideas and meeting new people whom they might not have met otherwise.”

Andrea died following a short battle against cancer. She leaves John, her husband of 38 years, two children, John and Nola, and four grandchildren - two boys and two girls.

A funeral service was held at City Road Cemetery on Monday, with donations collected for HOPE and the Firth Park Festival. To get involved in the allotment project or for more information call Sheena on 07792 605138.