Being a station adopter, by Sandy Burn, adopter of Westerfield station

Thursday, 11 June 2020
Behind the Scenes

Sandy Burn - Station Adopter

I first became aware of the adopter’s scheme in the summer of 2018 and joined that October. Being a passionate gardener, I enjoy growing seeds, planting, pruning and weeding so the area at Platform 1 at Westerfield station was the perfect adopter’s site - overgrown, full of nettles, brambles and weeds.

This, I started to clear in March 2019 and by the beginning of May I was ready to start planting.

Plants were funded by Greater Anglia and the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, some were home-grown, and a friend helped me with the planting plan.

The plants needed to be drought tolerant, low maintenance and have a natural look. Ranges of pollinating plants were included to encourage biodiversity for bees, butterflies and other insects, whilst creating a pleasing sight for passengers.

Flowers at Westerfield Station in Autumn 2019

What Station Adoption means to me


As a station adopter I am able to give something back to the community, whilst meeting many interesting people - either passengers commuting to work or railway staff on the platforms. Being outdoors in the fresh air is wonderful. I get a buzz and sense of pride when I am there caring for the border and tubs. Gardening keeps me fit and healthy and stimulates the senses through colour, fragrance, wildlife and splendour.

Plants have the power to connect people.

Station Adoption is an amazing scheme. Adopters are well supported and encouraged, before COVID-19 there were regular coffee mornings where you could meet like-minded people to discuss problems and successes.

During lockdown Alan Neville, Greater Anglia’s Community and Customer Engagement Manager, has been sending us weekly updates and keeping a much needed communication link. I have also been in regular contact with the East Suffolk lines

Community Rail Partnership as Westerfield is on the line between Ipswich and Lowestoft, which is one of the lines that the partnership supports.

Westerfield station really is a special place for me to visit and do voluntary work. Gardening is my normality; I love the ever-changing cycle of nature and it allows me to appreciate the everyday.

Future plans

Initially, I was the only adopter working at Westerfield station, however, since last year, Laura who discovered the station while out walking became so interested in what she saw that she has now become a fellow station adopter at Westerfield. Also Yvonne from gardening club will help when safe to do so. Having companionship, working with people from the wider community and sharing ideas is a very exciting prospect for me. Due to lockdown we have been communicating by text and email.

In the future we hope to clear and plant a further large area of 12m x 6m.

As there is no water source at present, the plants need to be drought tolerant and hardy once established. To ensure it is a successful wildlife garden we hope to choose plants for year-round flowering and of different heights to offer pollen, nectar, shelter and shade for insects and wildlife. The RHS ‘plants for pollinator’s’ plant list has been a useful guide.

We also hope to plant a small trial patch of wildflower seed mix to attract pollinators and are in discussion with 1st Westerfield cubs who hope to earn their ‘gardener’ badges by filling a wooden planter on platform 2 with herbs for commuters to help themselves, but this is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 situation.

Some photos of wildlife at the station:

Westerfield Station wildlife photos