Winners chosen for Gardening Against the Odds Award

The gardeners of the Southend Huntington’s Disease branch allotment have been chosen as the winners of this year’s Gardening Against The Odds Awards, a national programme organised by The Conservation Foundation and The Sunday Telegraph.

Prescila Bisa’s front door in Notting Hill. She has been given an Award of Merit.

Prescila Bisa’s front door in Notting Hill. She has been given an Award of Merit. Pic The Conservation Foundation

A celebrity judging panel picked the Sherborne Gardens allotmenters from a strong field of entries from all over the UK.

Almost two years ago, the branch was allocated two derelict plots on the allotments at Manners Way, Southend and since then the gardeners have transformed them and, at the same time, the lives of Huntington’s Disease sufferers and their families.

The Gardening Leave garden built by military veterans in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and Amlwch Community Gardening Club in Anglesey, where Age Well volunteers have transformed a rubble strewn yard, were joint runners up with seven other gardeners against the odds receiving awards of merit.

Awards of Merit:

  • Prescila Bisa’s exuberantly planted doorstep in W11,
  • the Gardens Community Gardens next to a Haringey railway line which has become a focus of local life,
  • Amlwch Community Gardening Club’s garden in Anglesey

    Amlwch Community Gardening Club’s garden in Anglesey Pic The Conservation Foundation

    a community play garden in Eric Street, Tower Hamlets where local resident Tanya Nalywajko had involved neighbours in transforming a dog fouled patch,

  • the Medical Victims of Torture sensory and healing garden in N7 where Mary Raphaely helps to bring healing to lives broken by torture
  •  Jean McQuaid’s inventive garden in Canning Town where flowers and vegetables flourish in builders’ bags.
  • Guys Marsh Prison in Dorset was commended for a conservation themed garden with plants grown by prisoners
  •  Tommy Thompson, a gardener in the Alnwick Garden, who has overcome his disability to become what judge Bunny Guinness described as “a real gardener fighting against great odds.”

About the Award

The Gardening Against The Odds awards, now in their second year, are dedicated to Sunday Telegraph writer Elspeth Thompson, who died in March 2010, and are named after her final online diary.

A champion of the unsung gardening heroes to be found all over the country, Elspeth saw beauty in the unexpected and her weekly columns inspired a huge following.

Individual gardeners and community groups who garden despite physical difficulties or in the face of mental or psychological problems, such as depression and grief and those who have transformed inhospitable corners into green havens, were all encouraged to enter.

The Gardening Leave garden at Chelsea barracks

The Gardening Leave garden at Chelsea barracks Pic The Conservation Foundation

Relatives, friends, neighbours and passers-by were also urged to nominate those who deserved recognition but may hesitate to put themselves forward.

The judges

Joining the celebrity judging panel this year were The Duchess of Northumberland, creator of the world famous Alnwick Garden and author and Sunday Telegraph columnist Francine Raymond.

The other judges were botanist David Bellamy, Elspeth Thompson’s Sunday Telegraph editor Anne Cuthbertson, garden writer and designer Bunny Guinness, actress Susan Hampshire, Guerrilla Gardening’s Richard Reynolds, Green & Black’s founder Craig Sams, Conservation Foundation director David Shreeve, Elspeth’s husband Frank Wilson and Christopher Woodward, director of the Garden Museum.

Sunday Telegraph Life editor Anne Cuthbertson said: “The entries we received were so inspiring; they were stories that made your heart sing. The awards have been the most fitting tribute to our dear and much-missed colleague Elspeth Thompson.”

The winning gardeners, two runners up and seven Highly Commended gardeners will be honoured at a celebration to be held in the Great Conservatory of Syon House next March.

The Gardening against the Odds Awards are supported by the Tanner Trust

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