Hydon Hill scenic sensory community garden opens in Surrey

29 September 2016

  • The Hydon Hill garden being opened as a ribbon is cutHM Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, and new Leonard Cheshire CEO join celebrations.
  • Wildlife haven created on Godalming care home site.
  • Dan Eley thanks service as he moves into his new home.

A new scenic sensory interactive garden at Hydon Hill care home opened in Godalming this weekend.

This new garden follows months of renovation work at the Leonard Cheshire Disability service. The entire community came together to make this possible, with everyone from garden designers to construction workers giving thousands of pounds worth of their time and skills for free to revitalise the garden at Hydon Hill. 

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey Michael More Molyneux with the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Waverley, Councillor Simon and Mrs Rosie Inchbald, along with Councillor Maurice Byaham and over 250 people, including Neil Heslop — Leonard Cheshire Disability’s new CEO, joined in with the celebrations.

With residents, friends, family, staff and volunteers, they took in music from local band 25 Miles and enjoyed cream teas and refreshments as part of the festivities. 

The new garden will be open to the whole community and takes advantage of Hydon Hill’s scenic settings and local wildlife. It stands on land where there was once a memorial garden for the war hero and charity’s founder Leonard Cheshire.

Activities coordinator Jonathan Lelacheur said:

‘It’s a sensory retreat for the people who use our services and since it’s been finished, they’ve been using it every day.’

The Lord-Lieutenant officially opened the garden and gave a speech before Elisabeth Tovell, the resident committee chairperson for Hydon Hill said a few words.

Also amongst those celebrating was Dan Eley, who has lived at the service, receiving rehabilitative support for six years and took the opportunity to say his thanks and goodbye to everyone at Hydon Hill, as he is moving on to independent living.

He said:

‘On 1 January, 2010 I broke my neck and suffered a spinal cord injury while diving into a shallow pond in the Colombian Amazon. The accident left me tetraplegic and wheelchair-bound to this day. 

‘I was 32 years old at the time and what happened on that day turned my life on its head. 

‘In total I spent 11 very difficult months in hospital before being transferred to Leonard Cheshire's Hydon Hill service in Godalming, the town where I was born and grew up.

‘I remember very clearly when I arrived here feeling devastated. I can remember waking up every day questioning if a life like this is worth living. 

‘Now, six years later I am running my own charity and working as a public/motivational speaker. My life has purpose again and the fulfilment that comes from being able to contribute positively towards other people's lives has made me happy again.

‘Having arrived here as a broken man six years ago, I now leave feeling like a rehabilitated individual and that's in large part due to the fantastic care and support I have received from the staff and residents at Hydon Hill. 

‘I know it's because of the supporting environment they create that I have rebuilt my life from the ashes and discover that, even as a disabled individual, there is so much joy and happiness we can experience and so much we can give back. 

‘I will be forever grateful to Leonard Cheshire and the staff at Hydon Hill for all they have done for me and I intend to stay in regular contact with the staff and residents here. 

‘Thank you so much to all of you involved in making Hydon Hill such a special place and for the invaluable contribution you've made to my life!’

Now Hydon Hill is gearing up for work to begin on building a new café to sit alongside the garden.

In order to complete these works, the home continues to welcome any volunteers and donations.

Media enquiries

If you would like further information please email Claire Farrell or call 020 3242 0204 / 07525 805179 or for out of hours press 07903 949388.

If you would like to find out more information about the project at Hydon Hill please email Darshan Baidoo, service manager, Hydon Hill, Leonard Cheshire Disability. Telephone: 01483 860516.