A COMMUNITY-spirited Halesowen man has been leaving sunflower seedlings in Leasowes Park to help cheer people up during lockdown.

Darren Kench came up with the idea of the 'Plant a Thought' campaign in response to the numerous acts of kindness inspired by the coronavirus pandemic - and to time with the Mental Health Awareness Week #KindnessMatters campaign, which runs this week.

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The 48-year-old graphic designer and conservation enthusiast has grown 26 seedlings which he has left around the park off Mucklow Hill in Halesowen for people to find and take home.

People who have found a plant are asked to take it home and nurture it and share the progress of its growth on the Plant A Thought Facebook page.

Darren is planning on putting out more plants in the next fortnight.

The 48-year-old: "The sunflowers symbolise hope for the future and it's something to bring the community together.

"I've been really inspired by Halesowen In Bloom - it helps bring the town together and creates a sense of purpose.

"I've had a really positive response."

He started growing the plants when he planted 26 sunflower seeds as part of the 2.6 challenge from the organisers of the London Marathon.

Darren, who is still working full-time as a graphic designer, does a lot of voluntary work with Leasowes Walled Garden.

He collaborated with the Bat Conservation Trust on their award-winning Gardeners' World Live stand, in 2017, after winning a Wild About Gardens Week competition on behalf of the Leasowes Walled Garden.

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To make a donation to the Mental Health Foundation visit Darren's JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/plant-a-thought.

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