2014. Christmas in the Garden.
We have nearly finished our 4th year on this project. We have made substantial progress.
Last January, we had 8 students with us and other volunteers. We were working towards the building of an Education Centre but were concerned at the likely cost and how to raise funds. Of those 8 students, three left us to enter employment, one returned to live with her estranged family, three obtained their Certificate and are now working towards their diploma; one has already obtained a Diploma.
We continue to offer tuition for City & Guilds Level 1 Certificate & Diploma in Horticulture. This year we have been joined by pupils from a local school for pupils with special needs. They come to us for 2 days a week and return to the school for the other 3 days. They have blossomed with us. They have passed all the tests towards their Level 1 Certificates. The YMCA volunteers have bonded with them and together they all form a happy and very hard working team. All of our students from the YMCA have also passed every assessment that they undertook.
In April, we obtained planning permission for our Education Centre. We continued to raise funds. We started the build in June and went into possession of the completed building in mid-December. Views of the building works and completed building are in the Garden pictures on the website. It is everything that we hoped for and better than we dared expect. Small things like a warm spot when it is cold outside, a place to make coffee and tea especially on cold days, a nearby lavatory when necessary [instead on going to the house, removing boots etc], a work space with a view of and easy quick access to the garden are all going to make a massive difference to our task.
We continue to provide produce for St Katharines.
We sell plants from the garden to visitors. We attended Lane End during the spring on Saturday mornings to sell excess produce from the garden. We attended the Frieth Fete to sell excess produce. With special permission we entered 7 classes in the local Flower Show and came overall second. We sold Vegetable boxes to visitors to the garden. We sold Christmas wreaths and hanging baskets in December.
We were joined by 2 more volunteer coordinators. John Graham Wheeler, a retired teacher from a local Grammar School and Gillian Frances Sandeman, a retired teacher with special needs experience.
Committee members visit local clubs and societies and give talks about the Garden and it’s work.
The Rothschild Foundation.
The Foundation have donated substantial funds to us which have helped us pay for the Education Centre.
The Lady Ryder Memorial Trust.
The Trust have donated substantial funds to us and granted us an interest free loan which have helped us pay for the Education Centre.
Red Kite Community Housing. http://www.redkitehousing.org.uk
We have developed a close partnership with Red Kite, which is a community-led housing association based in High Wycombe and has more than 6000 homes across the district and surrounding areas. They appreciate what we do for the community and have donated substantial funds towards the education centre. We have attended their last two AGMs and spread the word; their staff had a much enjoyed “away day” at the Garden, with another planned next April. We hope some of their tenants will do some volunteering and try the City and Guilds course.
Marlow Rotary Club.
A member of Marlow Rotary Club became a friend and helper to the Garden. He helped us raise funds for the Garden. Unfortunately he died, but the Rotary Club have continued to support us and members come and help us with the volunteers in the garden.
We have been supported by a number of individuals and other organisations who have donated funds which has been essential in securing the new building and to whom we express our sincere thanks