Monday, 23 May 2022

Garden for disabled young people being transformed

Garden for disabled young people being transformed

THE garden at the Chiltern Centre in Henley has been revamped.

Trustees of the centre, off Greys Road, want to create a “therapeutic garden” for the young adults it cares for and have been helped by a team of volunteers and students at the KLC School of Design in London.

The work was led by Victoria Newton and Jane Macfarlane-Duckworth, who organise the Chelsea Fringe Henley festival.

The garden now has different zones, including edible and wildlife areas, and a dining space.

Mrs Newton said: “I saw on Facebook that the centre had a design they wanted to put in place and they were asking for help to bring it to life. We got together with the trustees and had a really good discussion and we decided how to tweak the design to make it more appropriate for the people who are going to use it.

“We wanted to help create a space that was appropriate for young adults and got rid of the more childish parts of the design that were not really needed.

“The garden now has different zones that can be used by young people, their parents and members of the team. We really wanted to include wildlife as well.

“It has been a really great team effort and we are really happy with the result.”

Emma Lerche-Thomsen, from the centre, said: “We wanted the garden to be more suitable for our young people and this is a great transformation. We’ve now got a wonderful garden with beautiful wisteria and jasmine and a tent with cushions for our young people to enjoy. It looks absolutely lovely.

“We are very grateful to Jane, Victoria and the team. Their work will enable our young people to enjoy the sights, smells and sensations of a garden and they are already loving the tent.” 

The garden was levelled last year and artificial grass was put down to make it more accessible.

The design for the therapeutic garden was selected after 15 students from the design school made a Zoom presentation to the trustees in October. The winning design included a space for a communal dining area and outdoor kitchen as well as an herb garden and seating. The centre was then invited to take part in the Chelsea Fringe Festival and used the opportunity to launch the garden project to help raise funds.

A video to launch the project was made by local production company We are the Creative, directed by Marco Barcella and featuring Chiltern Centre patron Alex Haigh. 

Mrs Lerche-Thomsen added: “We are continuing to fundraise but were able to launch it thanks to the funding secured from individual donations and from goodwill in kind with vouchers from Toad Hall garden centre.” 

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