A memorial garden which was derelict for 20 years reopened yesterday.

The rose garden next to St Michael and All Angels Church, in Loughton, first opened to the public in the late 1960s, but fell into disrepair.

A group was formed to restore the garden and the area alongside the brook in Roding Road ten years ago.

But the group struggled to raise enough funds and plans were placed on hold.

Councillor Ken Angold Stephens was asked to lead the scheme six years ago and scaled the plans back.

He said: "I was asked to take over about six years ago and soon realised the impossibility of this large scale project so I narrowed my focus to just the garden and started fundraising.

"It has taken about three years work to raise sufficient funds as the garden was in such a bad state that even the clearance work was going to cost a significant amount."

The group received a £17,000 grant from SITA trust, which supports community and environmental projects.

Funding from Epping Forest District Council, Essex County Council, Loughton Town Council and The Grange Farm Trust took the total £26,000.

The garden's new benches were all donated by people commemorating a member of their family.

Landscape architect Jennie Hart designed a garden, with plants chosen to be nearly all native species.

The town council has now taken on a lease from the church, which should ensure the gardens future and avoid it again falling into decline.

Walking group The Ravers raised £500 for the project, while Loughton and Buckhurst Hill Rotary Club and local accountants Haslers also made contributions.