Veterans Bring Yorkshire’s RHS Chelsea Garden To Life

Veterans who served their country and are now living with psychological wounds are set to help bring Welcome to Yorkshire’s biggest garden to life.Ex-servicemen and women from the Help for Heroes’ Recovery Centre, Phoenix House in Catterick, will help create ‘God’s Own County – A Garden for Yorkshire’ at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.
Veterans from the Centre regularly take part in horticultural therapies at Thorp Perrow Arboretum in Bedale, as such activities can be particularly beneficial for those struggling with their mental wellbeing.
Now they are set to put their skills to the test when they spend two weeks with Welcome to Yorkshire’s garden designer Matthew Wilson and his team at Chelsea to build and plant the garden ready for it to be showcased to the world on May 23-28.
The garden’s designer, Matthew Wilson said:
“Having seen first-hand the huge effect working with plants and trees has on the health and wellbeing of veterans, I’m very excited about a group of them joining us in the creation of this Yorkshire showstopper. It will be a wonderful and inspiring experience for the veterans.”
One of them, 45 year old Paul Sterndale-Bennett, from North Yorkshire, was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after being in the Army for 20 years. He’s had front line tours of Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Since being medically discharged from the Army, it took Paul many attempts to find a new career but his work at Thorp Perrow has given him a new lease of life.
Paul said:
“Working at Thorp Perrow is the best job I’ve ever had! Mentally I feel so much better! I’m keen to learn as much as I can about horticulture and I hope my work on Welcome to Yorkshire’s garden will be a huge part of that. I’ve often watched the Chelsea Flower Show on TV and to now be a part of it will be awesome. I can’t believe I have been given such a brilliant opportunity!”
York Minster’s Great East Window is the inspiration for the garden and work is well underway to create a replica which will be the focal point for the garden’s design.
York Glaziers Trust are using the same hand-blown glass that has been used to painstakingly restore the largest single expanse of medieval stained glass in the UK.
Sarah Brown from York Glaziers Trust said:
“We’re delighted to be making the glass screen that will be an integral part of Welcome to Yorkshire’s garden. The glass we’re using is a mouth blown ‘antique’ material made in exactly the same way that the medieval glass was made. The glass is being leaded up in the traditional way so that a recreation of the Minster’s Great East Window will shed coloured light on to the garden’
Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said:
“This is our biggest RHS Chelsea garden to date and is a true celebration of everything Yorkshire has to offer. I’m delighted Help for Heroes veterans are helping us bring our garden to life. It will be a tremendous experience for everyone involved and will be another way for us showcase the very best of God’s Own County to the world.”

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