A new garden area providing peace and tranquillity for veterans has been unveiled in Newcastle after volunteers from organisations across the North East worked together to transform the garden area at one of the largest veterans’ houses in the city…

The area, which lies within a central courtyard at Launchpad’s Avondale House in Byker, Newcastle has been completely transformed, making it more accessible and creating an area where residents and visitors can enjoy.

The garden makeover was led by Virgin Money who initiated the project and held workshops with veterans living at the scheme to find out what they wanted to see within their garden to develop it into a more useable space whilst making it more accessible, welcoming and providing low maintenance.

Helen Richardson-Smith, Workplace Designer at Virgin Money co-ordinated the week-long project and not only liaised with residents and staff but also managed to bring more volunteers to the project. As part of its community programme, staff at Virgin Money are encouraged to volunteer two days each year to community-based projects where they will make a difference.

Helen, working alongside Launchpad, also encouraged staff from DHL Supply Chain’s Prudhoe and Faverdale sites, NHS Business Services Authority, Northern Gas Network and CJ Fencing to help over the five days, which included clearing overgrown shrubs and bushes, repairing old stairways and installing supports for bedding areas.

The volunteers then created an allotment area, a strawberry field, poppy memorial area, herb garden and the planting of bedding plants, shrubs, fruit trees and vegetable areas to provide colour and encourage sustainable eating. A new shed has been installed within the garden and the existing greenhouse completely renovated, re-painted and made secure.

David Shaw, CEO and Co-founder of Launchpad, said: “What has been achieved in the space of a week is nothing short of a miracle. The garden and central courtyard is unrecognisable and has been completely transformed. The generosity and power of local businesses across the North East coming together to support our veterans is very much appreciated.

“It was lovely to see some of the residents also getting involved and they all appreciate the efforts that the volunteers have made. Everyone can be proud of themselves and the garden is now an area that provides a space for peace and tranquil and for our veterans to socialise. We are going to set up a gardening club for some of our green fingered residents to keep on top of all the great work that has been achieved.”

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