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Wiltshire garden giving veterans a place to meet

A stately home in Wiltshire has created a community garden that hosts veterans once a week to maintain the space.

Andy stood with a spade leaning against a wall in a garden.

In the latest episode of Active Together, Andy Powlesland shares the enormous benefits the community enjoy from the scheme at Grade II listed house, Arundells.

He was introduced to the garden through unimaginably difficult circumstances when he lost his wife to an unexpected illness. As he explains, whilst grieving he found himself needing to get out of the house. His friend introduced him to a veteran’s breakfast club, and through that he became aware of the garden.

The camaraderie of the group and the beauty of the surroundings help a range of veterans and volunteers.

“It’s a very special place. Voted one of the most beautiful places in the country. It’s very peaceful, it’s very quiet” he tells host Sam Lloyd.

Watch the podcast below:

The Get Out Get Active (GOGA) funded programme saw volunteers work with veterans from Alabaré, a charity supporting vulnerable, homeless and marginalised people, to clear the previously unused community garden space and install plant beds and a shed.

The group supports veterans across generations, with some who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is an opportunity for those living in temporary accommodation to enjoy an outdoor space. When pushed on what message he would give to others thinking about joining a similar group Andy is keen to stress the difference it can make:

“Do it, just do it. You don’t get anywhere by just sitting at home. I did that, I sat at home, I can equate with that, I understand that. But you have to get out, we’re social people aren’t we…We all need that human contact.”

The garden is a hub of the community, alongside those who garden every week people are free to drop in and simply have a cup of tea.

“People come and go. We’ve got a wheelchair user who has been a couple of times, but she has other things on. There’re guys who come in, spend quite a lot of time there, now they’ve moved on. They have taken something from it. They were living in a hostel and this was part of their rehabilitation…coming to terms with where they are now.”

Talking candidly throughout, getting outside and being active together has made a huge difference to Andy’s life:

“In a lot of ways it’s sort of almost given me my life back. I’ve got that meaning now, there’s that anchor in the week. It’s a Thursday, there’s things to do, it’s given me that purpose, that meaning back.”

You can listen to all episodes of Active Together wherever you get your podcasts. 

About Get Out Get Active 

Get Out Get Active (GOGA) is a programme that supports disabled and non-disabled people to enjoy being active together. Activity Alliance is the creator and lead partner. The programme is funded by Spirit of 2012, Sport England and London Marathon Foundation.  

Find out more about Get Out Get Active here.