Award winning gardens in Mill Gap Road

In 1993 David Wells designed the Mill Gap Road hospice gardens. He has kindly shared his memories from the time.

‘In 1993 I was privileged to be invited to design and build the gardens at Mill Gap Road.

‘Major obstacles were: shortage of funds, poor access and no information about the area that had previously been a rubbish tip, not to mention about 10 feral cats that had grown used to being fed.

‘I was introduced to Mrs Mavis Brand who nominated herself as fundraiser. She was a tiny lady with a big heart and a very persuasive manner. She requested a list of my firm’s suppliers – builders, merchants, etc. I pointed out that there was a recession in the building trade, so not to build her hopes.

‘Mavis did the impossible and came away with pledges for more than £20,000 in materials. There was a lot of good luck too. One supplier who manufactures growers planting compost telephoned to say that they had got the mix formula wrong in a batch of about 20 tons… could we use it; just what Mill Gap’s poor, chalky topsoil needed.

‘It was a very wet winter, not ideal for landscaping, but we made steady progress and developed a good rapport with the staff and patients. It ended up being one of the most rewarding projects in my career, seeing the gardens being used for social functions as well as ‘quiet corners’ for private moments.

‘In the summer of 1994, St Wilfrid’s was included on the route for judging in the prestigious South East in Bloom awards, which Eastbourne won and gave St Wilfrid’s some good publicity. There was a nice spin-off for my firm too: we won the National British Landscaping Industries annual award for the Design & Build category.

‘Part of the halcyon days!’

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