This summer, we were handed the honour of helping STIHL judge their inaugural ‘Local Hero’ competition – a quest to find and recognise the unsung heroes of our community, those who take an active role in regenerating and preserving their neighbourhoods.
Judging took place at Westonbirt Arbouretum, Gloucestershire’s premier tree zoo and – amongst other wooden delights – home to the newly installed STIHL treetop walkway. Ensconced in the Westonbirt cafe, aided by steely-eyed STIHL judges Rebecca and Simon, along with Jane Moore (Gardener’s World’s newest, best-est presenter), we set to work on the enormous pile of entries, stopping only to mop our brows and to wipe cake crumbs from the creases of our notebooks.
After much gnashing of teeth, chin-stroking (and a short fist-fight) we came to an agreement –The Grange was to be our worthy winner.
The Grange is a Bookham based charity that provides person-orientated care and support services for adults with physical and learning disabilities. The Grange’s Horticultural Team alone supports more than 55 people per week, teaching them all aspects of garden maintenance, pruning, planting, mowing and growing fruit and vegetables in the organisation’s Walled Garden, which are then sold at local farmer’s markets and local businesses. The organisation was nominated by Leatherhead local, Mark Secker, who says The Grange has made a significant positive impact on the community.
Mark says, “The Grange’s contributions to the community are ongoing. The Grange is a friendly and welcoming organisation supporting people with disabilities to achieve their potential and live independent and fulfilling lives. The Grange brings positive change to people’s lives through gardening and other learning and social activities. I can’t think of a more deserving group of people for this award than the people supported by The Grange’
Marion Chow, Fundraising and PR Coordinator at The Grange, says she was unaware of the nomination and was delighted when she got the call to say they were winners.
“I am utterly thrilled with this STIHL award and prize – the timing couldn’t be better. Here at The Grange we are about to embark on a ‘Gardening in the Community’ project, utilising our members’ skills and experience to help other organisations such as schools, care homes and youth groups with gardening projects. However, our current equipment is old and in need of replacing. We like battery powered equipment as it is safer to use and is generally lighter and has less vibration and noise which is great for the people we support.”
“We also have several people who are keen to learn to use the leaf blower and strimmer, although the petrol ones we have vibrate too much. A battery model will make this a possibility for them. Many of the people that live and work here have autism and have very sensitive hearing and they can be upset by strange smells such as the petrol fumes, so quieter machines that do not smell would be a benefit to them as well. To be the winners of this competition and receive the STIHL cordless power tool system is a tremendous boost to helping the people we support to broaden their horizons and gain valuable work experience in the community,” says Marion.
Robin Lennie, Managing Director at STIHL GB, says the competition looks to reward those unsung heroes who take an active role in regenerating and preserving their neighbourhoods.
“We know there are thousands of people around the country spending endless hours of their own time planting, landscaping, recycling and cleaning – all in the name of their local community. As a leading garden power tool and equipment company we feel it is our duty to recognise those people who are helping enhance the environment,” says Robin.
Congratulations to all at The Grange! And if you need any help shifting those espalier apples, give us a shout. We’ll load up our cider press and be round in a flash.