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  ISSUE 5 SPRING 2015
 
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Anna Baker Cresswell  

Here we are in September – busy, busy at HighGround and I hope you enjoy reading our Newsletter.

Do please get in touch if you have any comments, advice or suggestions; every time I see that someone else has signed up to receive our Newsletter I wonder who they are and how we can engage with them..!

Anna Baker Cresswell signarure

Anna Baker Cresswell
Founder and Development Director

 

 
 

Contents

HighGround at Headley Court
Carol’s Column
Rural Weeks
Fundraising
PR and Media
Research
IT
Clippings
 
     
  HighGround at Headley Court   spacer
     
 

The Home Thoughts from Abroad garden has made great strides since Lee turned the first turf in May and thanks to our wonderful friends at Sutton & East Surrey Water there is now a smart white picket fence around the garden and by the time you read this, the Shed will be in situ and the first plants from Hortus Loci who are being So generous, will have been delivered and planted.

We are very grateful to ABF The Soldier’s Charity for their continued support of HighGround at Headley Court and have also welcomed Eileen from the Robertson Ness Trust, Sue Hawkins from the Ripple Pond , Carol Wincott who started Shore Leave Haslar and Mark Straver, Mr Hortus Loci himself, to see what Carol and her patients are doing in the garden and the greenhouse.

  Painting the new picket fence

Painting the new picket fence

 
 

The plans for the move to Stanford Hall in 2018 are ongoing and you can see updates on our website.

In the last quarter Carol has delivered 814 sessions of Horticultural Therapy to 272 patients. She describes life at Headley Court much better than I can so please read on…

 
     
   
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Carol  

Summer is slowly passing on the baton to Autumn and time now for a pause for reflection.

I am very happy to report patient numbers are still climbing and referrals from other departments such as Specialist Rehab and Medicals are increasing too. The various teams have said their patients are so different once they begin to engage in Horticultural Therapy, which is so good to hear. One OT said that she had never seen her patient so animated and happy – excellent! Two departments have contacted me to ask if I could deliver a session to the staff to give a greater understanding of HT. They would also experience first hand what their patients are engaging in and how that feels. All good stuff, I just need to fit it in........

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Since my last missive we have visited RHS Wisley several times, especially with the photography group joining us. This has produced some excellent results in terms of therapy goals achieved. One patient I work with is physically injured coupled with PTSD and hypervigilance and on his first visit to a very busy Wisley had a great time with his camera. The crowds were not a concern to him, he was laughing, joking and able to spend some time independently walking the grounds without us. His photographs are going to be part of an exhibition at Headley Court.

The RHS have been great supporters and it only takes an email to arrange our visits which are beginning to be a regular feature.

 
     
 
     
Visiting Hortus Loci's nursery –sweetie shop for Carol!!

Visiting Hortus Loci’s nursery –sweetie shop for Carol!!

 

Our ‘Home Thoughts’ garden has definitely moved on. The brilliant Sutton and East Surrey Water Company have visited to put the shed base down and the area has been rotavated and levelled ready for the preparation of the soil to begin. They came back this week and in a flash we had a beautiful gazebo, white picket fencing and as a special treat for us – a fruit cage!! They know how to make a horticulturalist happy. We are also being supported by Hortus Loci nursery (of Chelsea Flower Show fame no less!) who are kindly supplying us with trees and many other plants to really give us a great start tothe planting. We visited the nursery with a patient and had an excellent time being shown around. For us plantaholics it was like a visit to the best sweet shop ever! I am really look forward to working with Mark and his team.

     
 
 
     

The Wedding Bells have been ringing during July and August continuing until early September! We had our first patient wedding in July, the second in August and our third is in September. All the grooms are regular patients at Horticulture and were keen to impress the Brides-to-be with bunches of flowers, vegetables they had grown and even petal confetti! Our July Bride has just had a birthday and her gift from her new husband was gooseberry jam he had made. This patient is a double amputee with a partial hand, and the hand intact has limited mobility. So jam making was quite a challenge – yes, he did top and tail the goose gogs and wash up! What will they think of next?

The Hens are a happy crew and still love tomato rugby. We have four new additions who have settled in well. One of our retired Ladies from Essex has been broody and would not leave the golf ball she was trying to hatch. Eventually she went off the idea and promptly went into the moult and looked very sorry for herself. She is now getting her new ‘clothes’ and is beginning to look less like she has been dragged through a hedge. The other Girls are laying well and enjoying the hugs they receive from the patients. I hope to have some new editions soon to swell the numbers.

The eggs have been mostly used in patient cooking therapy along with our vegetables. I love it when one of my patients comes and harvest vegetables they have had a hand in growing and then uses the produce to make wonderful meals. It’s great when a plan comes together.

  Headley Court confetti starts here

Headley Court confetti starts here

Jam Making with our own gooseberries

Jam Making with our own gooseberries

     
 
     
 
Hay bales waiting for their courgette plants...

Serious garlic plus magic ingredient...

 

We have had an amazing crop of garlic, red onions and leeks so far. However we have some monster onions ready to lift, more leeks and superb potatoes. The sweetcorn is not far behind. Other successes have been broccoli, cabbage and the soft fruit, to name a few. I have a sneaky suspicion the bumper crops are due to a little magic plant food supplied by our best friends Miraclegro. They have just donated another pallet of compost and a pallet of organic matter. We couldn’t do this without them and we are so very grateful for their unfailing support.

 
     
 

We have made our first batch of sweet chilli sauce and it has not lasted a week! My patient confessed this morning, the bottle we made on Tuesday this week is very nearly finished. I did warn him it can be addictive. So I guess we will be making rather a lot more. Making chutney is also a regular request and no doubt the ‘Big Pan’ will be working overtime in the coming weeks. Preserving is a great thing for patients to try. It is excellent for standing tolerance, manual dexterity, mindfulness and calming – at the end of the session something delicious to eat, what’s not to like? The orchard will be quaking as we forage for fruit for our next preserving session.

I am very happy to report two of my patients after long rehab journeys have returned to their Units. This is not often the case so when it happens it is something to really celebrate. Well done lads, your hard work and determination has paid dividends. To be part of that journey has been a great privilege.

Also in the ‘brilliant news’ column is regarding a patient travelling to South Africa with the charity Tusk to help with Vulture conservation. He never imagined this would be possible when he had a conversation with Anna and myself earlier in the year. He had no idea that Anna would make this happen for him and she has. By the time you read this he will be in South Africa achieving his dream and I am so excited for him! He hopes to be a pathfinder and encourage other injured personnel and veterans to get involved. I look forward to hearing all about his experience on his return.

So what’s next? Grafting apple tree master classes, more basket weaving, visits to Wisley, developing ‘Home Thoughts’, dedicated vocational sessions and encouraging more patients to engage with HighGround especially regarding the Rural Weeks which have proved to be so successful.

My story to end this newsletter comes from a patient this morning as he was digging potatoes on his prosthetic legs – “This is brilliant, oh yes!!!!” he exclaimed “I am going to do this at home, potatoes everywhere!” and he went on to say it was really depressing coming to the greenhouse etc before HighGround got involved and now it is fantastic. Straight from the horses’ mouth, praise indeed.

Carol

 

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  Rural Weeks   spacer
 
RXW Day 1

RXW Day 1

 

Following the pilot weeks in autumn 2014 we delivered our first Rural Week at Plumpton College in Sussex in late June.

We have now delivered 3 Rural Weeks (RXW) to a wide range of Service Leavers and Veterans from all 3 services who found us via social media and word of mouth or were referred by Worldwide Volunteering, Recovery Career Services, Stoll, the Officers Association, and Headley Court.

 
 
 
 

Plumpton’s staff have been brilliant and our evening speakers, outside presenters Colonel Richard Dorney, Miranda Glavin and Ian Forbes, Simmo our wheelchair basketball coach, Zoe and Caroline who came to talk about careers in the thoroughbred industry and Sharon and Emma from Wyevale Garden Centres who delivered a fascinating session about interview techniques and CV’s in civvy street all played a blinder. There are 2 more RXW’s in October and November and the programme for 2016 is already being discussed with the College and HighGround’s Trustees. You can read the interim report of the first 2 RXW’s here.

 
 
 
 

A special mention must go to Neil who served in the Royal Engineers, joined us for RXW 2 and thanks to the Worshipful Company of Vintners, returned to Plumpton to start a Principles of Vine Growing course – truly HighGround in action and a very proud day for us all.

Form Ex, the form we will send to estates, cider growers, racecourses, forestry companies, wildlife parks, fish farms and anyone else who generously offers to provide work experience for HighGround’s beneficiaries, is currently being road tested by the Development Board and should be ready to send out by the end of October.

  Neil on his vinegrowing course

Neil on his vinegrowing course

 
 
 
 

Work experience is the missing link for people who have already had one career, in the military, and now with HighGround’s help, are moving into the next chapter of their lives and it is critical to successful job finding and self-employment.

Not everyone who comes to HighGround will need an RXW and for those who know what they want to do, and just need some contacts in their land-based industry of choice we are very grateful to our ever-expanding network of Livery Companies (especially the Worshipful Company of Farmers), agricultural advisors and ex-military people who are now working in the land-based sector for helping us to connect people...

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Fundraising for the Rural Weeks programme is ongoing and we are very grateful to the Anne Duchess of Westminster Charity for their generous contribution; each RXW for 8 students costs £12,353 to deliver. Lesley, the mother of our of our RXW students raised £1,500 by organising a fun day on August Bank Holiday which has been matched by her local branch of Barclays bank – thank you so much Lesley and Barclays for your magnificent efforts.

 
 
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On 1st September Corporal John Macleod flew to South Africa where I had organised for him to volunteer at Tusk’s vulture conservation project of which more later. None of this would have been possible without the hugely generous support of Tolla Sutcliffe at Earle International; Regimental Association The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards; Dialaflight Ltd; Pyser-SGI; Mr Cad and the many generous individuals who have supported John’s pathfinding trip to Africa.

Core funding continues to be a challenge as it is for many charities. This is boring but critical money for running costs and salaries and we continue to be hugely grateful to Annington for making Horseferry Road possible, and thank you also to the Clemence Family Trust who have funded our insurance costs for the next 12 months.LIBOR – the Armed Forces Covenant Fund was launched in July and I am working on a number of proposals – watch this space….

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  John departing LHR

John departing LHR

 
     
     
   
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We have been in a variety of publications this quarter including The Garden, Pathfinder and Lifeworks magazine and Grow Your Own. You can find the articles in our Press Room.

Our wonderful website ladies Kathryn and Marcela have done a fabulous upgrading the website to make it more of a resource for the ever increasing number of Service Leavers and Veterans who want to find jobs, careers and vocational opportunities in the land-based sector.

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We continue to collect data using Dr Zoe Morrison’s excellent forms and the wonderful Robs have finished building a bespoke Access platform for us to record even more precious data.

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As well as the wonderful Robs and Computer Angels, we are working with the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, as they develop their Charity IT Association service – a terrific opportunity.

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As I write this, John is still in South Africa. You can read his blog here and the parallels he draws between the injured vultures he is working with and his own journey through recovery from injury are both touching and fascinating

We hope that this trip will lead to employment opportunities in wildlife conservation not just for John, but for many more servicemen and women who bring such unique skills to this global effort.

  John working with injured vultures

John working with injured vultures

 
   
 

I have been fortunate to meet some great people in all sorts of places from the Glaziers’ Hall in the City of London, to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst via the Houses of Parliament and Dale Hill Golf Club.

I’d like to thank everyone for their brilliant hospitality as I continue to take the HighGround message to other charities, funders, parliament and the military and you, for minding enough about HighGround to read this newsletter right to the end!

Anna

 
 

HighGround

 
 

 

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