It's something that we probably all worry about at some time—getting into difficulties business-wise. Sole traders and small outfits with only a few employees are probably the most vulnerable. Illness and injury, unexpected expenses – they can all knock a trader sideways in a frighteningly short space of time.
Perennial knows this. They're the charity that aims to help everyone who works in horticulture, as well as their families, when trouble arrives. Their website is full of the stories of horticultural workers who have been hauled into the lifeboat when they were just about to go under.
A collaboration between Yardley London and Perennial, 'A Growing Obsession – Yardley London Perennial Garden', will be on show at Hampton Court Flower Show next month.
Around the UK, Perennial's advisers offer free, confidential advice, support and financial assistance to people of all ages, day in, day out, and it's these stories that made us at London Stone want to contribute to the work that Perennial does.
- Raymond Whitwell, a Dunkirk veteran, values the scooter that Perennial supplied. He's regained his independence.
- John Foley, BBC Young Gardener of the Year in 2012, is grateful for the long-term assistance given when his father became ill and couldn't run the family nursery. With Perennial's help, John not only gained funding to study at Askham Brian, but took driving lessons, meaning he could drive the company van. “Now I have a wonderful future,” he says. “I have the nursery and have exciting plans to improve it further.”
- Kate Powell, who has a chronic health problem, admits she had to swallow her pride to get in touch. Perennial obtained benefits on her behalf and continues to support her and her partner. She says, “I dread to think what would have happened if Perennial had not been there to fight for us.”
So many of us in horticulture are self-employed, it seems almost by definition to be a trade full of self-reliant, independent people and Kate's feelings will ring true for a lot of us who hate to ask for help. Other stories describe how people facing bankruptcy, redundancy, depression and bereavement were helped back on their feet.
Meanwhile, lots of people are raising money so that Perennial can continue to expand its work. Early last month, ten intrepid (and slightly terrified) horticulturalists jumped out of a plane to raise (to date) £4200.
Now, we have to admit that here at London Stone we haven't taken leave of our senses had the courage to go quite that far, but we'd love to surpass that total. We will donate £10 split between our two charity partners, one of which is Perennial, every time someone signs up as a member of our London Stone Trade Club.
We'll be telling you about Greenfingers (our other charity partner) in another blogpost. In the meantime, why not sign up to London Stone Trade Club and make us hand over some more dosh?