North East Connected

Garden makeover for armed forces veterans

Volunteers from a north east developer, have turned green fingered to help two partially sighted veterans in Cleveland.


Ernie Booker and Jack Mays from Brotton, had their gardens tidied and access to their homes improved, by the team from regeneration specialist Galliford Try Partnerships North – the construction company working with Coast & Country to build The Cliffs, a development of 25 new bungalows for older people in Redcar and Cleveland.


Brightly coloured plants, paint and materials were incorporated to heighten visual stimuli and wind chimes installed, to add to the sensory experience.


Ernie was in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, joining up for National Service in November 1957. He served in Germany and Hong Kong and after being discharged as a Fusilier in December 1959, he remained in the Green Howards (TA) until April 1963. He said: “I’m so happy with my new garden and almost can’t believe this has been done for me. The garden is now fantastic and I can’t wait to get out there and put my strawberries in! It is so nice to be given something back after all those years looking after others”.


Jack joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1949 and served 25 years in Warminster, Rhyl, Tripoli, Singapore and Germany. He said: “The work that has been undertaken is very satisfactory and I was very impressed with how the workmen and volunteers conducted themselves”.


The pair were contacted through Blind Veterans UK – a national charity that supports ex forces personnel with the issues they face due to visual impairment. The developer enlisted the help of landscape specialists One Landscapes to support the volunteers and helpers from Coast & Country and the charity.


Galliford Try Partnerships North representative, Hayley Bell, said: “We are delighted to have been able to help Ernie and Jack by enhancing their gardens, undertaking DIY work and creating safe and stimulating outdoor spaces for them to enjoy.


“We are always keen to become involved in community activities or charitable initiatives in the areas in which we build and allow provision for our employees to undertake volunteer work across the region. We also try to enlist the support of our suppliers and contractors on these projects and would like to thank Brad at One Landscapes for the time and support he has given.”


Johanna Watts, Employer Engagement Officer at Coast & Country, said: “It is so important that we, and our suppliers and contractors, give something back to the communities in which we are working and this was a fantastic project on which everyone worked together to help and support Ernie and Jack.”


Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women. It was established in 1915 by Sir Arthur Pearson, as a response to the countless blinded soldiers returning from the Front during the First World War.


The charity now supports approximately 4,500 people – both in the community and in two care centres – providing free services and much-needed support to help veterans adjust to sight loss, overcome the challenges of blindness and to lead full and independent lives.


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