Revamped nature trail opens at Harrogate charity garden

September 30, 2021 | Castle Hill News

Revamped nature trail opens at Harrogate charity garden

Pictured above: (from left) Horticap student Hannah, Lewis Stokes of The Banks Group, Horticap vice chairman Martin Reay, Horticap students Hannah and Callum, and Horticap operations manager Phil Airey

Local people are being invited to take a walk on the wild side after the completion of a nine-month project to revamp the nature trail at a Harrogate charity’s garden.

"The Horticap team has done an excellent job in improving what was already a great community"

Last year, Horticap 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 garden’s nature trail was badly churned up during the construction work – but with the help of a £5,000 grant from property and energy firm The Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund, Horticap has now been able to give it a full revamp.

Additional seating areas, interpretative boards and new pond screening have been placed around the trail, while a new sunken garden has been created to provides a social space that can be used by visiting schools and community groups.

The work has been led by Horticap’s operations manager Phil Airey and supported by local contractors and long-term supporters of the charity, with some of the charity’s students assisting when it’s been safe for them to be on site.

Pictured above: Lewis Stokes of The Banks Group, back left, with some of the HorticapPictured above: Pictured above: Lewis Stokes of The Banks Group, back left, with some of the Horticap

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 is now hoping to use the new facilities as a way of extending the role it plays in the wider local community.

"Without the generous funding that Banks have provided, we’d have just had to tidy up the nature trail as best we could"

Phil Airey says: “The nature trail has always been really well used by our various visitors, and we’ve now created something even better that we’re sure everyone’s going to love.

“It’s a very practical space with lots of interesting things to see and activities to undertake, and the extra facilities we’ve added have made it even more attractive.

“Involving some of our students in making these improvements has helped them develop new personal and workplace skills while also giving them an even greater sense of ownership of the garden, and we’d love to now see more local community groups making use of what the students have helped to create.

“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 long-term difference to what we can offer our visitors.”

Pictured above: Back row, left Martin Reay, vice chair Horticap and Lewis Stokes of The Banks Group, centre left, with others in the Horticap teamPictured above: Back row, left Martin Reay, vice chair Horticap and Lewis Stokes of The Banks Group, centre left, with others in the Horticap team

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “Despite everything that’s been going on this year, the Horticap team has done an excellent job in improving what was already a great community asset and it’s brilliant to see all their hard work resulting in something so impressive.

“As a developer that is investing in a number of property and renewable energy projects across Yorkshire, as well as in our own presence in the county, we look 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 fundmanager@bankscommunityfund.org.uk or on 0191 378 6342 before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.

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