The Blind Veterans UK ‘It’s all about community’ garden

We sponsored a special garden at this year's RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

The ‘It’s all about community’ garden was created by celebrated designers Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Dan Bowyer was one of the largest show gardens at Hampton Court this year.

We received both a gold medal and an award for best construction. 

The garden featured traditional stone, oak and willow, which came together with ornamental trees, flowers, an orchard and a kitchen garden. The major structure was a willow vine sculpture that wraped around the whole garden. The sculpture, created by renowned artist Tom Hare, allowed visitors to walk through parts and experience the textures, colours and fragrance of the garden first hand. They also got to enjoy a number of art and craft sculptures and features made by blind veterans themselves.

Award-winning garden designer Andrew Fisher Tomlin said: “The blind veterans, volunteers and staff are an inspiring community that come together to ensure veterans recover their independence and discover a life beyond sight loss." He continued: 

"The garden reflects this sense of community, exploring many different aspects of what Blind Veterans UK does - bringing people together, supporting passive and active therapy, providing vital life skills and independence, offering learning, training and recreation opportunities."

Watch more about what is included in the garden and how it is all about community.

Andrew's partner and garden designer Dan Bowyer also said "It is not the traditional idea of a 'sensory' garden for vision impairment but celebrates the ability, activity and vibrancy of the blind veterans the charity supports. We are so proud to be working with Blind Veterans UK once again. Our work with the charity has already been recognised by the RHS with outstanding neighbourhood awards in Wales in Bloom in 2015 and 2016."

One of our inspirational veterans Lewis Trinder is still gardening at the age of 92. 

Despite losing his sight, he is still able to do things by feel and perseverance stating "I find the quality of life in my garden is good for me as I’m able to do things up there that provide me with a sense of peace, worth and enjoyment that I wouldn’t otherwise have."

Lewis attended the show and enjoyed meeting our Patron HRH Countess of Wessex, the Hairy Bikers and many of the thousands of visits who enjoyed the garden throughout the week. Watch more about why he loves to spend six hours a day in his garden and why he would recommend anyone who is getting older to find something to do, something positive.

Our charity was founded more than 100 years ago to support those blinded in the First World War. Now, we support veterans regardless of when they served or how they lost their sight. The Blind Veterans UK community has grown and we now support over 4,500 veterans, more than ever before in our history. However, we estimate that there are up to 55,000 blind veterans that would be eligible to access our specialist support but are not currently aware of it.

Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB said: “Blind Veterans UK has set an ambitious target to double the number of veterans we support in the next five years. This garden represents the community of blind veterans that we hope to grow. As the average age of the veterans we support is rising, we have now extended our services to provide more practical and emotional support closer to our beneficiary’s own communities. 

"This garden, at the prestigious RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, was a fantastic opportunity to reach out to the thousands of blind veterans out there who don’t know they’re entitled to our support."

After the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, the garden was divided between our charity's two main training and rehabilitation centres in Brighton and Llandudno. This way our blind veterans can enjoy the flowers, trees and incredible structures made by master craftsman for many years to come.

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and is now battling severe sight loss then please do get in touch with us on  0800 389 7979 or visit our contact us page for more ways to get in touch.