A Carshalton artist who "transformed" a piece of land into a community garden in Hackbridge has been celebrated at a party on his 70th birthday.

Claudio Funari has spent two years turning an “overgrown” and “unattended” plot of land in Nightingale Road into a “place of beauty”.

A party held on August 5 paid tribute to his popular work where he was gifted money to purchase more resources as well as a special card.

The Rossignol Gardens resident, originally from Sao Paulo in Brazil, said: “I have had such a memorable day today, you are all forever in my heart!”

Sutton Guardian:

Claudio Funari's community garden party. Photo: Graham Fox

Mr Funari started work on the Hackbridge Community Garden this month two years ago when he moved to England to live closer to his son.

It began with him clearing debris from the River Wandle to then recycling pieces of art, and making seats for children from tree trunks and sculptures from wires.

Lynn Dawson and Valerie Casey, of The Causeway, began a collection for Mr Funari and, within a week, just under £600 was raised.

He was given the money at the party to purchase more tools, compost, plants and shrubs.

The special card presented to him was translated into his native Portuguese.

Ms Dawson said: “Childminders take their little ones there to play, local workers enjoy their lunch hour there, and all of the residents pop down to say hello to Claudio.

“He is there most days and he would love to see more people view his work. Even though he speaks very little English, he always manages to understand you.”

Sutton Guardian:

Claudio Funari reading his special card. Photo: Graham Fox

The artist's garden is now listed on Google Maps and has been recognised within the community.

In a post online, About Hackbridge said: "Anyone passing through Hackbridge over the last year or so can’t have failed to notice that change is afoot.

"Over 1,000 flats and houses are currently being built across several locations, including new riverside properties and the huge development opposite Hackbridge station.

But what you might not know is that an altogether quieter revolution is taking place, on a piece of land by the Hackbridge next to the River Wandle.

"If you happen to be passing by the gardens and see Claudio, I encourage you to say 'ola'.

"Claudio, from myself and other residents and walkers who have been touched by your community spirit – muito obrigado."