A Busy Year For Our Charity Partners Greenfingers And Perennial - we take a look at what our charity partners have been up to in 2018, as well as a look forward to what 2019 has in store.

As Christmas approaches, it’s time to check in with Greenfingers and Perennial, the two charities we at London Stone support through our Landscaper Specialist Scheme.

Greenfingers’ garden Andy’s at St Andrew’s Hospice, Grimsby, has been transformed from a grassy area with hedging and borders unsuitable for wheelchair access to a pirate-themed multi-sensory experience. Picture courtesy of Greenfingers.

As you know, we donate £10 for every sign-up to the scheme, and thanks to the number of you who have joined so far in 2018, we’ve donated £1,400 - that’s £700 to each charity, all down to your support and action.

As we all know, Christmas can often be a particularly difficult time for some of us, as our actual circumstances are found lacking in comparison with the ideal family life depicted in the media. “For hundreds of people facing crisis situations,” says Julia Hayne, Director of Service at Perennial, “Christmas can be a lonely and frightening time and our support is their lifeline.”

Last year 158 families received help from Perennial as they struggled with the cost of Christmas. But, of course, Perennial’s work is year-round and they’ve helped many more during 2018.

Stephen and Vicki. “It took a while for us to accept that we needed help, but we have no regrets and are just so glad we came across them. I don’t think we would have known what to do without them,” says Vicki. Photo courtesy of Perennial.

Experienced landscaper Stephen, for example, has a partner, Vicki, with a long-term health condition and four children. He started to lose his sight, lost the ability to drive and became clinically depressed.

“Almost overnight our financial situation changed, and we really didn’t know how we were going to cope,” says his partner, Vicki. It’s still not easy, as Vicki has health problems of her own and Stephen is learning to cope with his sight loss. “But Perennial continues to be there for us,” she says, “and we know we can call the Perennial team for advice and support as and when we need it.”

The Nest and Rest garden at Grace House, Sunderland, under construction earlier this year. Picture courtesy of Greenfingers.

Greenfingers has also been busy. The charity creates green spaces for children’s hospices, thus ensuring patients and their families have somewhere natural and relaxing to escape to, away from the more clinical atmosphere indoors. And in 2019 Greenfingers will be celebrating its 20th anniversary. That’s 55 gardens to date, giving life-limited children a pleasant outdoor environment, often where nothing existed before. Greenfingers will be building a garden at the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show – more on that next year!

This year saw two gardens completed: Andy’s at St Andrew’s Hospice in Grimsby, and the Nest and Rest garden at Grace House, Sunderland, designed by Sean Murray to attract wildlife and provide an interactive, sensory experience for everyone.

Greenfingers won’t be taking a breather, though. Three gardens are scheduled for completion in 2019: a sensory garden at Claire House Children’s Hospice in The Wirral, an all-weather garden at Little Harbour Children’s Hospice, St Austell, and a woodland garden at Richard House Children’s Hospice in East London. And there are always more being added to the waiting list.

John Ashley is Chairman of Greenfingers Charity. “We couldn’t do our precious work without the support of the garden and landscaping industry,” he says. The charity is always grateful to receive contributions of materials such as plants, paving, compost and tools. “We also welcome volunteers who are willing to get their hands dirty in the gardens themselves,” he adds, “or to mentor volunteers during the garden build.”

Cutting the ribbon at the opening of Andy’s earlier this year. Picture courtesy of Greenfingers.

But if you can’t volunteer in this way, there’s something you can do, if you haven’t already. Here at London Stone, we offer support on your behalf and we’re proud to play a part in supporting the work of these two very different but important charities. We’ll continue to donate £10 between Greenfingers and Perennial for every trader or company who signs up to the Landscaper Specialist Scheme during 2019.

Benefits include a free business profile on our website, free training and a welcome pack that’s free and exclusive to members, offering samples of the full range of our products. Most importantly, though, you’ll be triggering donations to two very worthy causes.

It takes so little time to fill out the application, so why not click through and sign up now?

Merry Christmas from all at London Stone. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019.