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Home / News / Visit to 'Shore Leave Haslar' charity (30 Aug 2023)
Home / News / Visit to 'Shore Leave Haslar' charity (30 Aug 2023)
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Visit to 'Shore Leave Haslar' charity (30 Aug 2023)

Published 17:48 on 2 Sep 2023

Only four club members were able to attend this mid-week visit to the 'Shore Leave Haslar' Memorial Gardens within the grounds of the former Haslar hospital.  We entered through some gates in the long Haslar perimeter wall to what was like a secret garden.  We met up with Chris Robson, formerly a member of the Navy, but now retrained as a horticultural therapist.  Chris is also the chair of the charity and she very kindly gave up her time to take us around the gardens.  Chris explained that the aim of the charity is to use gardening to provide therapy for retired military personnel.  We were shown a wonderful vegetable garden with multi-coloured chillies, large peppers, ripe tomatoes, huge squashes of various kinds and many other vegetables thriving under the care of the volunteers and the people they help.  There were also some flowers and pots of flowers such as pansies that are grown for sale on open days.  The produce looked wonderful.  Water usage is reduced by using water butts on every greenhouse and no pesticides are used.  We were proudly shown the greenhouses by those who tended them and we chatted to a woodcarver making a wooden piece in one of the sheds.  Someone else was making cards using leaf prints.    Chris explained how the volunteers help the veterans to get started with an easy task, such as sowing some seeds in a tray and then, when they feel ready, they can move on to choosing what they would like to get involved in.  The veterans can come as often as they like and stay until they decide to leave.  They can take on responsibility for a particular bed if they wish and volunteers will water it if they are not around.  Some of the veterans end up serving as volunteers.

Chris then took us across a path to a different part of the garden, which had a totally different feel.  We were now in a park with a mixture of different mature trees.  The land had been a cemetery in the 19th century so there were a few gravestones around.  There were winding paths, an apiary, pergolas and a pond, but most of all there were quiet corners where veterans could sit and feel safe at times when they felt overwhelmed.

At the end of our visit we came back through the growing area and were provided with refreshments.  We all said how inspiring the visit had been, and what a wonderful charity it was.

There will also be the following opportunities to visit during the 'Heritage Open Days' event:

Friday, 8th September: 11:00 - 15:00

Saturday, 9th September: 11:00 - 15:00


If you miss this opportunity to visit the gardens, they are open to the public on Wednesday, 13th October from 11:00 to 13:00.

We also have the chance to hear more about the work of the 'Shore Leave Haslar' charity on Friday, 24th November, when Chris Robson will be speaking.  More details here.

Hilary Masters

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Last updated 13:22 on 25 October 2023

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