Wecock Farm is an example of what can be achieved

Mo Farrah after missing out on a gold medal
				 Picture: Adam Davy

VERITY LUSH: Leave me to browse the make-up counter in peace

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There was a time when Wecock Farm had an unenviable reputation.

Built in the 1970s by Portsmouth City Council, the housing estate was pigeon-holed as a run-down place to be avoided.

It wasn’t hard to see why, with a burnt-out pub and boarded-up shops contributing to an atmosphere of decay.

But now Wecock Farm is totally transformed, proof positive that things can be turned around if people are determined enough.

We report today how a lake formed by gravel extraction at the back of the estate and a patch of surrounding land has been cleared and is now a tranquil home to wildlife as diverse as kingfishers, bats and buzzards.

Dozens of Wecock residents plus students from South Downs College and workers from Southern Electric and Lockheed Martin have helped to clear up the lake and create some new wildlife habitats.

Now there are fishing groups, butterfly identification events and bat conservation evenings, while there are also plans for volunteers to be able to pick up vocational qualifications for working at the lake.

All in all, it’s quite a transformation.

But it’s not just the landscape that’s been altered. So too have the fortunes of the estate and the mindsets of people living locally.

The lake and the Acorn Community Centre, where clubs meet and events take place, have been focal points for change.

As Ann Waters, chairwoman of trustees at the centre, says: ‘What used to happen is people kept their heads down and didn’t associate with anyone.

‘It’s all about pulling people in together and giving them a sense of identity.’

Wecock Farm is a fantastic example to other estates of how a real community spirit can be created.

Out of pessimism can come positivity if people are prepared to put in the effort.

And with the announcement of £100,000 a year of lottery funding for Wecock for the next 10 years, we look forward to it going from strength to strength.