Keeping busy helped volunteer Carole Ann Powers create an exciting new community project
When National Garden Scheme’s Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester volunteer and garden owner Carole Ann Powers lost her beloved Chow Chow, Tai Li, it was an expansion of her volunteering and community work that helped her move forward.
“I told myself, as I always do in challenging situations, to keep busy – not to dwell. So, I thought of the things I enjoy; bringing community groups together, gardening and the greater good! And, in the current economic crisis, the need for sustainability and growing your own food. What could tick all the boxes as well as National Garden Scheme group gardens?”
After extensive research, using the National Garden Scheme website, The Little Yellow Book of Gardens and Health 2023, a review of other forward-thinking organisations trying to combat the impact of global warming and climate change, allied with her membership of Whalley & District Lions being paramount to the project success, Carole Ann set up a Whalley & District Open Gardens Facebook Group. Aimed at local groups, communities, neighbouring villages and garden owners Carole Ann’s mission was to create a bumper weekend of garden openings and community events to help raise funds and awareness for the National Garden Scheme and local causes.
“With volunteers coming forward we soon had a vibrant group of local gardens, churches, Whalley Abbey and allotments assembled. The weekend of 27 and 28 July 2024 will see the culmination of a year of hard work by a great team of volunteers, with many gardens including public places of interest opening under the National Garden Scheme,” explains Carole Ann. “There’ll be local businesses opening along with various activities taking place like baking competitions, plus an emphasis on the importance of gardens and green spaces to mental health and wellbeing. All of it will be rounded off with a garden themed show and the history of the National Garden Scheme at the local village hall.”
On top of all of this Carole Ann has come up with the wonderful idea of engaging the community to transform communal spaces including improving the kerb appeal on the approaches to the National Garden Scheme gardens opening in 2024.
“We’ll be identifying the spaces that need improvement and are thinking of sending a ‘volunteer gift card’ for those struggling with caring responsibilities or other challenging situations that make tending their garden hard, offering a few hours of volunteer gardening support.”
With plenty to keep her busy and inspired (including her day jobs!) Carole Ann and new Chow Chow puppy Jiao Jing – are finding exciting ways to promote the National Garden Scheme and bring local communities together with this huge community project.
“I’m so excited about next July and still keen to engage with anyone in the Ribble Valley and neighbouring villages who’d like to support or join in,” says Carole Ann. “And I hope that my story not only highlights the huge benefits of putting your energy into volunteering but also helps others to be inspired to volunteer for great causes, like those supported by the National Garden Scheme.”