Dena, 90, often works three hours a day on her allotment in the Manchester district of New Moston, where she has lived for 23 years.
But this is a patch with a difference. The great-gran uses her love of gardening to help criminals learn new skills and repay their debt to society. So far, she has helped 300 ex-offenders complete community service orders by teaching them allotment gardening.
The pensioner grows 23 types of fruit and veg on her allotment which provides a weekly three course lunch for around 50 pensioners from New Moston. She also runs a takeaway service delivering meals to elderly people who are housebound.
Dena has forged such a strong relationship with some of the former criminals she has helped to rehabilitate, that they still come over every Saturday to help out with the lunch club.
One ex-offender, Stephen, credits Dena with changing his life, sending her a card every Christmas with a straight line drawn inside, to symbolise the way she’s straightened him out. He said: “If Dena was my grandma then my life would never have gone wrong in the first place.”