Hammersmith Reflections – Award Winning Secret Gardens Open Saturday 9 June

Hammersmith United Charities is thrilled to announce the charity has won two awards at the London Gardens Society Competition for each of its two sheltered housing schemes for older people.  Sycamore House won third place for the large community gardens at the awards ceremony. However, community gardener Jackie Thompson was particularly pleased to receive first prize and the Challenge Cup for John Betts House in the small community gardens category.

You have a once in a year opportunity to visit both secret gardens as part of the Open Garden Squares Weekend on Saturday 9th June between 2pm and 5pm. Tickets at the door £4 or at www.opensquares.org for all gardens across London open at the weekend, children up to 11 go free.

 

Tilly and the Challenge Cup

After several years of second and third places, and facing stiff competition from rival Almshouses, the internal garden courtyard at John Betts House, achieved the accolade under the leadership of Jackie (and trusty helper, Tilly the dog!) “It feels brilliant, because it’s a lot of work. It’s judged on RHS guidelines, with points for immediate colour, points for tidiness and cleanliness, points for proper use of plants in the right place and sustainability,” Jackie said.

Jackie joined the charity in December 2003 and built the garden up with the help from volunteer garden residents.  The secluded garden was used to dump rubble from building work when John Betts House was refurbished in 1998, so digging has proved to be very difficult.

Given the challenge the garden presents, Jackie explained one of the ways to improve it was to plant above soil level. This means the garden is filled with hanging baskets and raised beds, where residents can plant vegetables and fruits in the summer.  The focal piece of the garden is the series of arches which are covered with plants and grasses and which Jackie changes every year.

John Betts House

Of course, the overall appearance of the garden is enhanced by the array of hanging baskets, pots and plants which are created by the residents and adorn the balconies surrounding the main courtyard garden. These balconies were recognised at the London Gardens Society awards, as residents James Geraghty (Sycamore House) and Clodagh Corcoran (John Betts House) won third place in the Balcony and Container displays category at the Almshouses Residents’ Garden Competition.

Clodagh, who has lived at John Betts House for more than four years, explained she loves looking out onto the garden and enjoying the peace it offers.  “I love the garden here. I like looking at the colour, the peace in this garden, you could cut it, it’s so quiet and lovely. There are always tiny birds moving around, very early in the morning picking up insects, its lovely, there’s a whole world out there,” Clodagh said.  “We wouldn’t have a garden if it wasn’t for Jackie, she built it from gravel up. Everybody loves the garden, people who come here, and it had never occurred to them to have a flower pot and she has encouraged them.”

Jackie said she is motivated by the fact she has created something beautiful for the residents to enjoy and residents who have never had an interest in gardening now relish spending time on their balcony displays, including Kate Macdonald who spends every day tending to her red geraniums.  “I like that I have created in both places a very nice place to live, that makes people feel at home, that they feel secure and there’s stimulation in colour and texture and perfume,” Jackie added. “It’s all about creating a home for birds and insects as well, its wildlife. Especially in a city it’s really important…it’s like a little hidden paradise.”

John Betts House Resident Kate

 

John Betts House has added even more to its natural ‘wow’ factor given by the design that conceals its garden completely from garden view.  The garden now contains newly painted benches, a new fountain and swing seat for residents to enjoy, bought with funds from one of the Open Garden Squares event held every year at the gardens.

The London Gardens Society awards come at a very special time for the charity as it celebrates its 400th anniversary in 2018. For this reason, the residents of Sycamore House and John Betts House would like to invite the local community to visit the secret, beautiful and award-winning gardens at the next Open Garden Squares event held on Saturday 9 June 2018 and encourage keen local gardeners to keep in touch in order to be updated on our very own gardeners question time in September.

Amani Hughes

May 2018

Hammersmith Reflections – Four hundred years of support, and counting!

This month we continued our celebrations of the charity’s 400 (more…)

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We are hiring – Part time Finance Assistant needed!

We are recruiting a new part-time finance assistant!

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Hammersmith Reflections – Thoughts from a New Trustee…

Every one of us has the capability to contribute to society, and to those less well off (financially, socially, physically etc), than ourselves. Having been involved in the running of businesses for a little while I was keen to donate my skills and knowledge. I had been involved with one local Hammersmith charity and having “done my time”, was keen to find another opportunity within the locality. The people and environment in which I live are important to me. Hammersmith has numerous problems and issues – and to contribute to solve a just very few of them gives me a lot of personal satisfaction.

Shepherds Bush Market

Hammersmith United Charities as we all know has been around for a long time (400 years to be precise). But what attracted me was the vision for the future. HUC has listened to the people of the Borough, through its “Big Conversation” and from that set out a real plan. This is a charity that has a long term vision for the future, is run and organised by some very professional people – and one that I wanted to be involved in.

Housing is a massive problem in our Borough. Hammersmith United Charities already provides really lovely sheltered accommodation to over 90 residents – all of whom would be at the mercy of private landlords without our apartments. But to be involved with a project to increase our stock and offer long term housing solutions to even more in the borough is an exciting prospect. Giving something back, no matter how small the contribution, that will last for many decades is a satisfying thought.

Two Residents at Sycamore House

But the charity isn’t just about providing sheltered housing. Over the four centuries of its existence the financial resources of the Charity have grown. This means that in 2018 we will be donating over £400,000 of our income to other local charities and support groups. Making real contributions to real people in borough and helping to improve their lives – whether it be through nutritious meals for homeless people; music for toddlers with language delay; counselling for people who have experienced domestic abuse; or opportunities for entrepreneurs to support older people Hammersmith United Charities makes a real contribution to people’s lives in the Borough – something that I am very proud of. And with the setting up of the combined UNITED charity something we want to do even more with the support of the local community.

W12 Festival 2016

Hammersmith United Charities is an exciting organisation with real plans, to make an even bigger contribution, to our local community. Something that excites me – and something I am proud to be part of.


David Bailey
Trustee
June 2018

 

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Robert Cohan CBE commissioned to work with the Bolder not Older Company

Bolder not Older is a dance company for West Londoners aged 55+ founded by DanceWest. The company meets weekly and works towards high-profile performances. Under the direction of
Sonia Illescas, the company celebrates the artistic integrity of older dancers and challenges preconceptions of what it means to be older.

93-year-old Robert Cohan will work with the company over an intensive weekender from 9-10 June contributing towards a piece that the group have been preparing for the opening of Hammersmith United Charities 400th celebrations on Friday 6th July at St Paul’s Church Hammersmith.

Yolande Yorke-Edgell, artistic director of Yorke Dance Project and founder of Cohan Collective will be supporting Robert on the weekender.

Robert Cohan’s collaboration with DanceWest will continue in October when he will inaugurate the first of DanceWest’s Inspired By series – a weekend of talks, interviews, conversations and performances
by Robert and those who have been inspired by him.
Dates: 6-7 October 2018.

Robert Cohan’s influence on the development of modern dance in Britain has been considerable. Having pioneered the teaching of contemporary dance technique in Britain, he was instrumental in the development of a vast following, not only for the repertory of LCDT in the ‘70s and ‘80s but through his pioneering residencies throughout the country, which laid the groundwork for the many other British companies that have grown up in the last 20 years.

 

You can download and read Robert Cohan biography on the right.

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