Over the last 12 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 were recently installed into the ‘Hope on the Horizon’ garden at The Help for Heroes Colchester Recovery Centre.

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.

“Several veterans have also reported that weaving the hazel hurdle fences has helped to reduce anxiety as they focus on the task in hand”.

The award-winning garden, which won the People’s Choice Award at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2014, is a haven for veterans and their families. It is extremely well used with people taking Pilates classes, practicing mindfulness or having family picnics on the grass and amongst the flowers.

Andrew Impey, CEO of Essex Wildlife Trust, said: “The veterans, their families and volunteers have helped us carry out important habitat management; 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”.