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HighGrounder’s are up to.
GOOD NEWS stories>
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Don’t miss our new page on the website to see what our HighGrounder’s are up to.
GOOD NEWS stories>
It’s summer at last and the swallows are back as I sit at home in Northumberland to write this – how welcome they are! A big HighGround welcome to Tim Eastwood who joined our Board of Trustees in April. Tim is a keen countryman and has joined us to help develop our land-based employment service with Rural Weeks at its core.
Our new commemorative garden at Headley Court Home Thoughts from Abroad, is now in bloom for the first time and we had a press day at the end of Chelsea Flower Show week to celebrate, and to thank all the people who have helped us to create this lovely space which is a welcome addition to the therapeutic environment we have created in the gardens at Headley Court.
Sami has been very busy too and the Rural Weeks programme is now in full swing – read on!! He’s also been working his socks off with our HighGrounders – you can see what they have been doing on our Good News stories page. Tell Your Friends! Huge congratulations to everyone who is moving forwards and cracking on – it’s what HighGround is all about!!!
Anna Baker Cresswell signarure

Anna Baker Cresswell
Founder and Development Director

HighGround at Headley Court
The new Surgeon General, Surgeon Rear Admiral Alasdair Walker visited us at Headley Court in April to see how Horticultural Therapy is being integrated into the range of rehab interventions which Headley Court now offers to its patients.
Carol and her Assistant Gina have had a very busy Spring quarter during which 107 patients received 439 sessions of Horticultural Therapy.We were delighted to welcome our intrepid gardening volunteers Jackie and Selina, and they will shortly be joined by Andy and Frank to help with the vital task of keeping the therapeutic environment where Carol delivers Hort Therapy, up to scratch.
Surgeon Rear Admiral Alasdair Walker with Carol and Anna at Headley Court
Jackie and Selina enjoying a well-deserved tea break!
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Carol’s Column
Arrivals and Departures
Arrivals! Our little bantams are happily settled at Headley Court and have caused a stir. They are regularly visited and perform accordingly. They are getting used to being handled by patients and are very curious. We have two very handsome cockerels who in spite of being only 9 weeks are practising their own personal dawn chorus throughout the day. Teenagers and broken voices come to mind. They have feathered feet which look like flares and strut around with their chests puffed up trying to be big boys. The little girls rush around peeping away as if gossiping .
Other arrivals also include our growing band of volunteers who come to support us. They weed, dig, water, pot on and take part in Hen Duties without a second thought. The gardens are certainly very much improved by their efforts. We are fortunate to have them.

As I write we are surrounded by a sea of bright green leaves and blossoms. The orchard here is looking wonderful; in full bloom above drifts of grasses and wildflowers. Alas, soon to be mown by anxious grounds staff who like things ‘tidy’. Being ‘tidy’ we miss so much in the garden and perhaps we should all take a more relaxed attitude (our garden at home is so relaxed it could be called a bit wild) and see what turns up! When I was an Under Gardener, the Head Gardener took me to one side, I had been rushing around trying to get things done and I always have remembered what he said. “Carol, gardens need looking at” and I realised that I had not been taking notice or appreciating.

These days it is called being ‘mindful’ and much of my work with patients is about looking, appreciating and really taking notice of what is around us and what we are doing giving a distraction from pain, stress and worldly cares. Just what is needed, try it.
Our little bantams
Our growing band of gardening volunteers with Mark Straver on press day.
Lately we have had a few patients who have reached the end of their rehab journey having been coming to Headley for a number of years. It feels like the end of the academic year, taking me back to my teaching days. The patients are naturally anxious about what the future will hold for them and their families. I am able to talk about the wider support that HighGround can give and several have taken up the opportunity to attend a Rural Week. The week at Plumpton helps enormously for decision making for their future employment or new career.

It is so brilliant to see a patient who arrived at Headley Court, maybe in a wheelchair or on crutches, in great pain, angry and suffering from poor mental health, to progress gradually over many months and finally well enough to get on with their lives. Job done!
A few of our patients (one of them is Carol’s husband who now volunteers for us on Tuesday mornings..!!) with Lots to do...
Home Thoughts
Our new garden ‘Home Thoughts’ has received the Sutton and East Surrey Water Company treatment! We have a lovely path constructed, which is natural stone of the non-slip kind. The lawn has been laid and will soon be an emerald carpet. We were a few turves short of a lawn and David Hogg of Buckland Nurseries donated the shortfall! It has been nothing short of a minor miracle. The latest works have been carried out over two days and the teams worked like Trojans. I made sure Tea and Coffee plus biscuits were regularly administered.

Plants will be arriving from Hortus Loci to furnish our borders and beds. This is another example of great kindness. The Hortus Loci team have been working at Chelsea Flower Show for many weeks ensuring safe delivery of plants to five show gardens, all needing perfection.
Newly planted border in Home Thoughts from Abroad garden.
RAFBF Project
I have been on a Road Trip to Yorkshire to meet with three RAFBF beneficiaries to discuss their requirements for a new garden makeover. We drove through snow, sleet, hail and rain over four days. It was a very busy schedule but worthwhile. The three people were all very different in outlook, attitude and situation. It was quite tough meeting one of the families, the husband is wheelchair bound and has PTSD. He closes the blinds in the house when his wife goes to work and watches television. I found it difficult to not put on my ‘Headley Court’ head and try to help there and then. However, I can help by ensuring he gets a garden that is a private space and somewhere he will want to go.

We shall soon be awash with produce for patients, cooking therapy and the Farm Shop. I am most pleased with our garlic, range of chilli varieties and tomatoes.

How the months have rushed by this year!


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Horseferry Road
Sami is settling in well although I’m not sure his feet have touched the ground yet..! Here is his report.

Over the last 4 weeks, I have been on my first two Rural Week’s since I joined HighGround back in December 2015. Both have gone extremely well and I have witnessed some great benefits to those who have attended. The aim of our Rural Week is to give Service Leavers, Veterans and Reservists the opportunity to find out about what the land based sector can offer them. Managing the programme has been fantastic. I have worked with great people at Plumpton College, have been supported by some fantastic partners and have met some great military/ex-military personnel who are passionate about the land based sector.

Resulting from the Rural Weeks I have begun supporting those who have attended and am supporting them fulfil their goals. We are putting together everything we have learnt from the Rural Week and applying it in transitioning into the land based sector.

I have one individual keen on running a Care Farm and am liaising with local organisations to set up relevant placements. A second individual is keen on setting up his own Forest School. He is being put in touch with a beneficiary of ours (attended a Rural Week in 2015) who has gone through the process and now running his own Forest School. This week, we have had two beneficiaries, who are keen on game keeping, offered work experience with one of our partners. We have another beneficiary who has decided to go back into education and begin is horticulture course in September this year.

Things are moving very quickly and I am enjoying supporting our beneficiaries and playing a small part in helping them transition. It is great to see their confidence go up, better understand what they need to do and take productive steps forward in to the land based sector.

Looking towards the next few weeks, I will be having a busy June with two more Rural Week’s due to be completed. I will continue to support those who come through to HighGround and hope to see them further progress over the next few weeks. It is a very busy time for myself but I am enjoying it and seeing the benefits coming through to the work we put in earlier in the year to set up these programmes and make them as relevant as possible.

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Rural Weeks
Plumpton College had their annual open day earlier in May and they kindly invited us to have a stand. It was a lovely Spring day and incredibly, they broke their attendance record with over 15,000 people through the gate!
HighGround’s stand at Plumpton
College’s annual open day
We have delivered 2 Rural Weeks so far and our new session, Introduction to the Railway Industry has been very well received. As always we are very grateful to our wonderfully generous outside presenters who come and make each Rural Week different, interesting and rich with contacts and advice about their own particular sector. The National Gamekeepers Association, the British Horseracing Authority and the Rail Alliance were all represented and our Resilience Training, delivered by Colonel Richard Dorney of Strongmind Resilience continues to prove a worthwhile element of our timetable.
Surgeon Rear Admiral Alasdair Walker with Carol and Anna at Headley Court
We are working with our wonderful web designers Kathryn and Marcela to have a Good News section on our homepage so you can follow the progress of Sami and his ‘HighGrounders’ as they get into volunteering, work experience, training and employment.

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When Captain Haydn Ayres married his fiancée Naomi, they asked their guests for donations to HighGround in lieu of wedding presents – this was the most fantastic gesture and I can’t put into words how much it meant to us. Their generosity has raised over £600 for HighGround.

I still haven’t discovered who nominated us for the Charitable Bookings scheme but please download the app and let’s see how it works..!

We are grateful to Help4Heroes who are now funding some of the individuals on our Rural Weeks programme, and also acknowledge the support of Greenwich Hospital.
The wedding of Captain Haydn Ayres and Naomi
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PR and media
The press day at Headley Court gave us some very welcome media exposure and we continue our social media efforts. More people seem to be finding us via Facebook and LinkedIn which can only be a good thing – need more hours in the day...
Left: David Brooker, HighGround Chairman of Trustees. Below: photos from the day. See Flickr or Facebook for more. Thank you to Charlie Hopkinson for his brilliant pictures.

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John Macleod recently started his apprenticeship at Hawks of Steele. It has been quite a journey for him since we first met in the greenhouse at Headley Court in December 2014 when he needed sticks to help him walk. Now he is learning how to make a living, outdoors. Doing something he has always wanted to do. That is why I started HighGround and may he be the first of many of our Country’s servicemen and women who find life beyond the military outdoors, through HighGround.
John Macleod and friend at Hawks of Steele.
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