A growing partnership between Help for Heroes and Essex Wildlife Trust has broken new ground…

The military charity and conservation charity have been working together for several years. Over the last six months a new project has seen Help for Heroes veterans, their families and volunteers coppicing hazels from Essex Wildlife Trust land.

They have then been taught the new skill of weaving hazel hurdle fences which are being installed into the ‘Hope on the Horizon’ garden at Colchester Recovery Centre on Wednesday.

Steve Schollar, Head of Recovery East and Midlands, said: “This project has proved to be an effective recovery activity. It has enabled our veterans to get out in the fresh air with those who may be experiencing similar issues and has taught them a new skill which hopefully will boost confidence.”

By focusing on the five key areas of Medical, Mind, Body, Spirit and Family specialist teams at Colchester Recovery Centre create the conditions for those who put their life on the line to have a second chance at life.

Their award-winning garden is a haven for veterans and their families; it is extremely well used with people taking Pilates classes, practicing mindfulness or having family picnics amongst the flowers.

Andrew Impey, CEO of Essex Wildlife Trust, said: “This is a partnership that we are immensely proud about; it has been a privilege to welcome Help for Heroes veterans and their families. Time spent outside with nature is beneficial to people’s health and well-being and this project is testament to that.

“The veterans have helped us carry out important habitat management, as hazel coppicing is a crucial part of keeping ancient woodland and its wildlife healthy and diverse. Now we look forward to seeing what wildlife joins the veterans in enjoying the beautiful garden.”

Steve Schollar finished by saying: “It is hoped that the partnership project will not only Help our Heroes but help our local wildlife by encouraging it into Colchester Recovery Centre”.