The idea for the Crohn’s and Colitis UK charity garden was conceived by Denise Shields in October 2015. She is a passionate amateur gardener, and has recently retired. She has experienced, first-hand, the devastating effects of Crohn’s Disease. At the age of 13, her son Callum was diagnosed with the disease, and in 2013 at the age of 23 he had a severe relapse of the condition which nearly cost him his life, and totally changed his life for ever.
It took Callum two years to fully enter remission, and during this time the charity was able to provide support for him, when required. Denise was inspired by the bravery and resilience shown by her son, in the face of his debilitating disease. She wanted to do something positive to help him and all those people who are affected by these dreadful conditions, and also to pay tribute to, and further raise awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis UK.
Denise contacted the charity to discuss her idea, which was then put before members of the senior leadership team. The opportunity to have significant public exposure at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, fitted well with the charity’s three year plan: to raise its profile further in the public domain, and to raise more revenue.
Subsequently, Denise got in touch with Rory Tompsett who she had met when he and his team re-designed part of her garden. Rory has been a previous exhibitor at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. The garden he helped to produce in 2013, gained him a silver medal. Rory spoke to Peter Hulland who provides a garden design service for Rory’s company, Actual Landscapes. http://www.actuallandscapes.co.uk/ While at that stage Rory and Peter, like many others, knew little about the charity or the terrible impact of Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis on people’s lives, they signed up to the concept of the project without reservation.
The brief for the Crohn’s and Colitis UK garden design was discussed. The intention is for the garden to engage visitors through sharing an individual’s emotional story of his/her journey with Crohn’s Disease during illness and recovery. The garden aims to visually reflect the charity’s core values, signifying the commitment of the charity to support those affected by these incapacitating conditions so that they can achieve a better quality of life. The 77m2 ‘show’ garden will be creative and innovative.
The charity will benefit from the public exposure at the Show, however, it was agreed that it would also benefit financially too. After the Show has concluded, as many of the plants as possible will be sold, while the sculptures, the water wall cascade, and where possible, most of the garden materials will be sold or auctioned; the Crohn’s and Colitis UK will receive all the proceeds. Furthermore, the charity will also benefit from all the fund raising opportunities linked to the design of the garden, both before and after the Show.
In months since October 2015, Denise, Rory and Peter have been overwhelmed by both the generosity and enthusiasm that industry, businesses and individuals alike have demonstrated for the garden project. Numerous sponsors and partners have been secured. Like Denise, Rory and Peter, they too want to help to raise the profile further of the Crohn’s and Colitis UK and secure income growth, in the hope that eventually a funded research project will find a cure for these diseases.