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New sensory garden opens at Christchurch fire station


Date: 29th August, 2018

Firefighters at Christchurch fire station have created a sensory garden for use by a local community day service.

Christchurch Connect day service enables adults with a range of cognitive learning disabilities, physical disabilities and early on-set dementia to take part in meaningful daytime activities.

For over ten years, the group has looked after an allotment within the fire station grounds, growing fruit and vegetables throughout the year. However, they have always wanted to develop a sensory garden as well, to support those users with more specific needs who are unable to help with the gardening work.

Over the Easter weekend, firefighters from Christchurch Blue Watch decided to create the garden for them, with an area of raised planters made from recycled car tyres. There are also wheelchair accessible paths, and an easily accessible composting area.

The last few months have seen the new planting settle, and other features –  such as bug houses and a hedgehog hotel – have been added by Christchurch Connect users.

Watch Manager Matt Kiddell led on the project and said: “The garden is being opened in memory of Robert Freeman, who sadly died in 2016. His stepfather Bill Buckley is a retired Station Officer in the fire and rescue service, and his mum Jackie has supported clients at Christchurch Connect for many years. Her commitment to the fire station allotment has ensured that Christchurch Connect clients have been able to develop and learn in a safe, positive environment, so we wanted to acknowledge all she has done and continues to do, as well as providing the day service with a wonderful new facility.”

Funding for the project was provided by Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and thanks also go to those local businesses who donated materials for free or with significant discounts – these include Travis Perkins, Macpenny’s Garden Centre and The Fencing Centre (Christchurch).

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