Armed Forces veterans attending Gardening Leave’s horticultural therapy project at Auchincruive near Ayr will find it easier to sow seeds and plant vegetables soon, thanks to ISS Facility Services Landscaping.
Gardening Leave’s site, based in the grounds of the SRUC (Scotland’s Rural College) and where the charity was started in 2007, is being transformed to make it more wheelchair-friendly and easier to use for veterans with bad backs and knees, a common issue for many who have served. Specially-designed raised wooden vegetable and herb beds are being installed by ISS throughout the site and garden paths are being re-laid to make access easier. The project will take over a month to complete and will be carried out by staff from ISS’s North Region.
Heather Budge-Reid, Chief Executive of Gardening Leave, said: “Raised beds are an important feature in a horticultural therapy garden for the troubled veterans who attend Gardening Leave, who may be suffering flash backs, hyper-vigilance and physical insecurity. Veterans working either side can reach the whole bed and can talk to each or their horticultural therapists while they work. The best, most open conversations can be had while people work side by side. As the beds back on to each other, veterans can become used to having someone behind them moving around which then helps them get used to all sorts of activities from shopping to attending events in the community. “
“We’re extremely grateful for the continued support of ISS. This year we remember those we lost 100 years ago but we are also remembering those who still live, and live with the invisible wounds of war,” she added.
Phil Jones, Managing Director, ISS Facility Services Landscaping said: “Our relationship with Gardening Leave began in 2010 and since then we have supported three major garden projects, making it possible for Gardening Leave to transform the lives of veterans in many different environments across the country. We are fully committed to the Armed Forces community not just
with the work we carry out with Gardening Leave but also through other sustainable community projects which we undertake in collaboration with our defence partners. ISS has a strong presence in the Defence Sector working with partners such as CarillionAmey to provide safe, welcoming and comfortable environments for our Service families to live in. The response from our own staff to the needs of Gardening Leave has been overwhelming with our employees giving voluntarily of their own time and fully engaging with the charity’s core values.”
ISS and Gardening Leave have forged close links over recent years with ISS supporting many of the charity’s projects. These include the remodelling of the charity’s site at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London earlier this year and the building of a new outreach garden for Gardening Leave at East Acton in London in 2013. ISS also supported the charity’s Honesty campaign aimed at combatting mental health stigma and later this year will be building a major, new garden for the charity in central Dundee.
Gardening Leave Auchincruive is attended by troubled veterans from all parts of Ayrshire. Using gardening therapy, the charity tends to the invisible wounds of conflict, helping veterans on their journey to good health and their transition to civilian life. £41 pays for a half-day Horticultural Therapy session for a veteran.


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