The nature trail at a Harrogate charity’s garden will be getting a new look for the new year with the help of a four-figure grant from a regional employer.
Horticap provides students with learning disabilities with opportunities to receive hands-on training in activities such as garden maintenance, horticulture and crafts, through which they can also develop and improve their social and personal skills.
The charity recently used a legacy from one of its former students to rebuild its tearoom and shop at its Bluecoat Wood Nurseries headquarters off Otley Road in the town and to relay part of the garden that sits alongside it.
Part of the nature trail that is located within the garden has been churned up during the construction work – but now, with the help of a £5,000 grant from property and energy firm The Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund, Horticap is set to give it a full revamp.
Additional seating areas, interpretative boards and new pond screening will be placed around the trail, while a new sunken garden will be created that will provide a social space that can be used by the schools and community groups that visit it in normal times.
Local landscaping contractor Nick Fryer, who is a long-term supporter of Horticap, has been appointed to carry out the required work, with some of the charity’s students assisting him as and when it’s safe for them to be on site.
The charity is aiming to start carrying out the required work as soon as ground conditions allow, with a view to being able to welcome visitors back later in the year as the pandemic restrictions begin to ease.
And it is also hoping to use the new facilities as a way of extending the role it plays in the wider local community.
Phil Airey, operations manager at Horticap, says: “In ordinary times, the nature trail is really well used by our various visitors, and we wanted to build on the recent improvements we’ve made to ensure it’s in the best possible shape for when we’re able to welcome everyone back.
“It’s a very practical space with lots of interesting things to see and activities to undertake, and the extra facilities we’re adding will make it even more attractive.
“Involving some of our students in making these improvements will help them develop new personal and workplace skills while also giving them an even greater sense of ownership of the garden.
“We’d love to see more community groups making use of what we have to offer once the warmer weather arrives and we’re able to fully open our doors again
“Without the generous funding that Banks have provided, we’d have just had to tidy up the nature trail as best we could, and being able to get things properly will make a huge difference in the long run.”
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “Horticap has a positive community impact that extends far beyond simply providing somewhere nice to spend some time in the open air, and it’s great for us to be part of a project that will be shared with so many local people in the years to come.
“As a developer that is investing in a number of property and renewable energy projects cross Yorkshire, as well as in our own presence in the county, our policy is to support eligible projects in the communities that host our developments through our community fund.”
Anyone interested in applying for funding from the Banks Community Fund should first contact the fund manager via email@example.com or on 0191 378 6342 before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.