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Young adults help friars branch out
22 August 2012

A group of community-spirited teenagers has come to the rescue of the Carmelite friars at Aylesford Priory in Kent, after a large tree fell in the grounds of their shrine.

On 5th August, towards the end of the annual Caribbean Pilgrimage, those near the pond at "The Friars" heard a loud cracking noise followed by a massive rustling of leaves as a large branch fell from one of the trees on the bank.

The fallen tree at Aylesford Priory's pond.

Before the persistent rain that fell across much of England this summer, Kent suffered a severe drought. Periods of dryness can weaken the branches of Black Poplar trees, which seems to have happened in this instance.

The Estates Manager at "The Friars", Steve Hayden, estimated that as much as two tons of wood fell. Luckily no one was near the tree, but the community faced the daunting task of removing the branch and seeing if any damage was done to the pond bank.

Luckily a group of teenagers has come to the rescue! They are volunteers undertaking National Citizen Service (NCS).

The Carmelite friars, working with CXK (a charity that supports young people in Kent), have given the young people two projects.

Starting on 13th August they removed the dead branch from the middle of the pond, and renovated the duck house on the island. With great ingenuity they got to the island using a boat.

The volunteers with the Prior of Aylesford, Fr. Brendan Grady, waving from the boat.

The second task the young volunteers will undertake is to renovate a kiosk in the priory grounds so that the Carmelites can better welcome the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and visitors who come to the priory every year to enjoy its peace and welcome.

National Citizen Service is a life changing experience for 16 and 17 year olds. They do outdoor activities, meet new people, develop new skills, and have the chance to put something back into society. It takes place over three weeks full time and then 30 hours are spent making their communities better places to live.

Dealing with the fallen tree branch was an ideal project for NCS. They bring people together from different backgrounds to tackle an outdoor challenge and then develop their own community project.

At the end of their time of service the volunteers graduate at a special ceremony where they receive a certificate signed by the Prime Minister.

The Carmelites are extremely grateful to the young volunteers for their hard work and enthusiasm.

Source: The Friars, Aylesford