Firstly, I'm very sorry for not posting this blog sooner. I did in fact get three quarters of the way through writing it last week when a technological disaster struck deleting everything I'd written to that point. If you are reading this then it hasn't happened again.

My very first official day on the Macmillan Home And Garden Makeover project was a day spent gardening for a Macmillan referral. The referral was for a chap named David who lived in a beautiful part of the county near Carnon Downs. David is a very friendly guy who has been slowed down by his cancer. He had been an active garden before his diagnosis but in the past few years he hadn’t had the energy or the inclination to stay on top of work which needed doing. 

David was referred to us through a Macmillan professional. We put an appeal out to find some volunteers for David and we arranged a date to tackle large jobs which needed sorting out in David’s garden. Thankfully all of this was done before I came into post, which just left me needing to help out on the day.

Everyone set about quickly trying to get hack down the many bramble, nettles, and weeds plaguing David’s garden and we all made short work of the brambles which were hindering David’s garden path and also the brambles which were wrapping themselves around his trees. Unfortunately progress was slowed by my insistence on a tea break after about an hour of work but the pace was soon picked up again thanks to David’s landlord supplying us all with cakes.

Once we were done the garden was unrecognisable, in that you could recognise a garden. We even found a barbecue pit which had long been lost to a sea of brambles. David was very thankful to the volunteers.  No one wants their cancer to make them change their lives but unfortunately many people have to do so. It can be an incredibly stressful thing to have a garden you don’t have the energy to maintain, you have to put so much focus on your health that the small things you used to do lose their priority to you but not their importance. To be able to help people someone take that sort of burden off of their shoulders was a fantastic way for me to start this job and to do it with such great volunteers was a great extra bonus.

The second garden I worked on was for Leonard who lives in St Agnes. Leonard is a golfing fanatic who also spent lots of time in his garden or his shed. His cancer diagnosis took away a lot of his energy and limited his mobility. This meant he wasn’t able to keep on top of his garden like he used to and as a result of this his tree grew so large that it blocked the light to his conservatory which was an extra shame because now that he wasn’t able to garden as much as he used to all he wanted to do was sit in the conservatory and enjoy a nice cup of tea with his wife.

The first time this we had arranged to tackle this garden we had to cancel due to the weather and unfortunately it wasn’t much better this time around. Since we had cancelled once before the volunteers were determined not to have to do so again and agreed to battle through the wind and rain to get at least the key jobs done.  Spurred on by the difficult weather we actually did a great job to tidy up the garden and rein in the overgrown trees and bushes. By the time the weather dried up we had completed most of the difficult tasks and we were feeling proud of ourselves for being so getting through it all. Leonard was exceptionally grateful and fully expected us to pack it in shortly after we started because the weather was so poor. You could see it meant the world to him to have the light back to his conservatory.

I’ve learnt a lot on my first week. The most obvious thing was how little I know about gardening. In fact I went out and brought this gardening book for myself:

 

I also learnt how significant of an impact we can make on a person with cancer in just a single day. It truly is heart-warming to know you’ve made an impact on someone who is going through a difficult time and that feeling isn’t just felt by me, the volunteers all come away feeling the same way.

If you would like to volunteer on the Macmillan project or if you want to make a referral to the Home and Garden makeover scheme please contact me on 01872 266991 or columt@volunteercornwall.org.uk