This week Jon Cruddas MP caught up with Nicola Dawn Bullman from Dagenham, the lady responsible for creating the rock gardens in Beam Valley and Beam Parklands. Since lockdown began the rock gardens have been an opportunity for people to come together and leave messages of hope for one another. Many have painted rocks in memory of loved ones lost to the virus.

Nicola said: “I was inspired by another rock garden I saw and had just lost my uncle Steve to Covid-19. I thought it was a great idea to do something in the community to bring people together, creating something that everyone could join in with.”

She added: “Whether it was painting a rock for the loss of a family member or friend, thanking the NHS and keyworkers or just painting anything they wanted and enjoyed doing it. I have seen a few people looking at it and placing their stones and it makes me feel proud for giving people in the community something to join together with.”

Jon commented: “these uncertain times have brought heartbreak for many across the country, and every act of kindness big or small helps to strengthen the spirit. These rock gardens are a great way to share memories and to say thank you in your own personal way to our key workers.”

Keep an eye out for rock gardens when you are on your walks, jogs and bike rides through the local country parks. Add to them by painting your own stone.