New garden opens for adults with learning disabilities and autism

Fakenham Garden Centre staff, on the left, with the Mayor of Fakenham, George Acheson, the manager o

Fakenham Garden Centre staff, on the left, with the Mayor of Fakenham, George Acheson, the manager of the Maltings, Nikki Newstead and David Hunter from Fakenham racecourse. Picture: Alex Thwaites - Credit: Archant

Future generations will be able to enjoy a new garden for adults with learning disabilities in Fakenham.

The popular garden at the Maltings, FitzRoy’s day and community service, was closed after falling into disrepair.

It was previously a relaxing environment for people who attended the service and was regularly used by schools and the public.

The new garden, designed and installed by Fakenham Garden Centre, is higher quality and lower maintenance than the original and has been designed to meet the needs of people with multiple and profound disabilities.

It has been professionally resurfaced with paths and raised beds for wheelchair accessibility.

And a grassed area has been added so that more profoundly disabled people can stretch out in comfort.

Service manager at the Maltings, Nikki Newstead said: “The old garden was in a terrible state so a committee of people who attend our service decided to plan and design a new garden where they could learn horticultural skills and enjoy picnics and BBQs together.

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“The new garden would not have been possible without the generous donations from charitable trusts and businesses.”

Gardening has many positive impacts on mental wellbeing and physical health for people with learning and associated physical disabilities, improving their motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

The horticulture project will also create opportunities for improving team work and social skills. Some of the people who attend the Maltings may work towards horticulture qualifications which can lead to volunteering and employment opportunities.

David Hunter, chief executive and clerk of Fakenham Racecourse, said: “I was saddened to see the sorry state of their garden.

“As a local company Fakenham Racecourse wanted to help transform the garden into a lovely area and with our contacts we were able to bring other businesses on board to help. I know the garden will be enjoyed for many years to come.”

The new garden was funded through donations from charitable trusts, Fakenham Council, Fakenham Racecourse, Tesco bags of Help and local businesses. Fakenham Racecourse also offered its staff and equipment to clear and level the old site prior to the new garden being installed.