Thieves wreck 'Greenest UK tenant' Tom Gleed's East End people's garden
PUBLISHED: 17:01 04 March 2015 | UPDATED: 17:12 04 March 2015
Wreckers have for the fourth time broken into a people's community garden in London's East End which is lovingly tended 365 days a year by the nation's Greenest Tenant of the Year champion.
One-time amateur London youth boxing champ Tom Gleed, now 69, who was presented with his green award by explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes in October, arrived at Poplar’s Brownfields community garden on Monday morning to discover intruders had smashed into a shed and damaged his chicken coop.
“I would like to get my hands on these scumbags,” he told the East London Advertiser. “It was like a bomb has gone off.
“But all they got were a few garden tools, paint brushes—and my pint of milk.”
He couldn’t even make himself a cuppa to get over the shock.
The retired welder is thankful they left his hens unharmed in the chicken coop.
Police have been examining the damage next to Carradale House in Andrew Street, close to the A12 Blackwall Tunnel approach, while Poplar Harca Housing which runs Brownfields Estate and its community garden was also looking into it.
“The wreckers left excrement when they ransacked the shed,” Tom fumed. “It’s disgusting—this is a community garden for young and old to enjoy and grow their own food.
“The elderly are now frightened to come here. The wanton vandalism has shaken me and made me feel sick. It’s all been a shock.”
Thieves targeting the garden last year stole an air-rifle, which he was licensed to use to protect his ex-battery rescue hens from marauding rats.
Tom, who was London Boys’ Club Federation’s middleweight champ when he was 16 and fought bouts at the Royal Albert Hall, was named “greenest tenant” in the Chartered Institute of Housing 2014 awards for helping to transform wasteland into a thriving, sustainable “people’s garden” and looking after it in all weathers, even in winter.
Poplar Harca’s Neighbourhoods director Babu Bhattacherjee said: “We’re saddened by the break-in and the effect it has had on the community that runs the garden. We’re working with the police to find the culprits and would urge anyone with information to contact them.”
The housing organisation promised to look into increase security around the garden.
Tom was a welder at Millwall’s Graving Dock on the Isle of Dogs before retiring, whose contract work included refitting the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s original Sir Galahad support ship which later sank in the 1981 Falklands conflict when it was hit by an Argentine Exocet missile.
“I was upset when Sir Galahad went down,” he remembers. “We were months fitting out that ship.”
Now he takes on a different battle—against marauding vandals wrecking his beloved community garden and trying to keep the Brownfields Estate green.