Godalming heroes join forces to create exciting ‘interactive sensory garden’

19 May 2016

Godalming people are uniting to bring back to life an historic woodland area which has fallen into disrepair, in the hope it will find a new home in the community’s heart as an ‘interactive sensory garden’.

From garden designers to construction workers, all these local heroes are giving thousands of pounds worth of their time and skills for free to revitalise the garden at Hydon Hill care home.

Joy Jardine, who is the garden designer, said:

‘The local community has responded with enormous generosity, contributing labour and help with material costs — without their help this project would not have got off the ground.’

As a result of Joy and the rest of the team’s generosity, the Leonard Cheshire Disability run home will soon be able to boast an innovative garden that engages all the senses.

It will have some unusual features, including a livestream of the inside of bird boxes when eggs hatch.

The new garden, set among buildings dating back to World War Two and scenic woodland with plenty of local wildlife, is being created where a memorial garden for war hero and charity founder Leonard Cheshire used to be.

However, over recent years the land has become overgrown and is particularly hard to access for wheelchair users, which many of the Hydon Hill’s 36 residents are.

The project grabbed the attention of the Godalming community, who, knowing how hard the Leonard Cheshire team work for the residents every day, wanted to show their love for the home.

The team has moved fast, with work beginning on 31 March and all involved are eagerly anticipating the garden’s opening.

Resident Elisabeth Tovell said:

‘There is an incredible heart behind this project. It’s like a big family working together for a common goal. I can’t wait to see the flowers, and the water lilies and frogs in the pond!’

Fellow resident Dan Eley said:

‘It’s going to be so wonderful to have a place to convene in summer because that’s what we’re missing.

‘We’re set in such a natural location, we should enjoy the fact we live in beautiful scenery. I have an image of so many of us in that garden together.’

Day care client and chef Michael Durbridge, who used to work with Gordon Ramsey, said:

‘The garden project will do so much for Hydon Hill. It will be so nice to be able to join the residents in the new area. We are all really looking forward to it opening.’

This excitement was echoed by staff. Physiotherapist Kinga Kutereba said:

‘At last we will be able to go outside, do exercises and get fresh air with residents.’

The team at Hydon Hill are also raising funds to create a new café overlooking the garden.

Meanwhile work has already begun on an accompanying art gallery in one of the historic army buildings, which will exhibit and sell art work and pottery created by the residents using the onsite kiln.

This vast complex at Hydon Hill, which also includes a well-stocked charity shop, is not just for residents and their visitors to enjoy, but for all the local community to use.

In order to complete these works the home is continuing to welcome any volunteers and donations. You can donate to the project online.

Media enquiries

For media enquiries please email Claire Farrell or call 020 3242 0204. Out of hours: 07903 949 388. Or call the general press office number on: 020 3242 0399.

Notes for editors

  • If you would like to find out more information about the project please email Jonathan Lelacheur, activities coordinator, Hydon Hill, Leonard Cheshire Disability, or call 01483 860516.
  • Hydon Hill’s helping hands include Hall Hunter who are providing construction and support with the project, and Maggie Van Koetsveld, who was previously a trustee of Hydon Hill and is now helping with fundraising.