Veterans to build Matthew Wilson's Yorkshire garden at Chelsea

Veterans who served their country and are now living with psychological wounds are set to help bring Welcome to Yorkshire's biggest garden to life.

 Janet Parkin, window designer for Matthew Wilson's garden. Image: Supplied
Janet Parkin, window designer for Matthew Wilson's garden. Image: Supplied

Ex-servicemen and women from the Help for Heroes' Recovery Centre, Phoenix House in Catterick, will help create 'God's Own County - A Garden for Yorkshire' designed by Matthew Wilson, at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.

Veterans from the centre regularly take part in horticultural therapies at Thorp Perrow Arboretum in Bedale, as such activities can be particularly beneficial for those struggling with their mental wellbeing.

Now they are set to put their skills to the test when they spend two weeks with Welcome to Yorkshire's garden designer Matthew Wilson and his team at Chelsea to build and plant the garden ready for it to be showcased to the world on 23 - 28 May.

Wilson said: "Having seen first-hand the huge effect working with plants and trees has on the health and wellbeing of veterans, I'm very excited about a group of them joining us in the creation of this Yorkshire showstopper. It will be a wonderful and inspiring experience for the veterans."

Among the veterans, 45-year-old Paul Sterndale-Bennett, from North Yorkshire, was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after being in the army for 20 years. He's had front line tours of Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Since being medically discharged from the Army, it took the ex-soldier many attempts to find a new career but his work at Thorp Perrow has given him a new lease of life.

Sterndale-Bennett said: "Working at Thorp Perrow is the best job I've ever had. Mentally I feel so much better. I'm keen to learn as much as I can about horticulture and I hope my work on Welcome to Yorkshire's garden will be a huge part of that. I've often watched the Chelsea Flower Show on TV and to now be a part of it will be awesome. I can't believe I have been given such a brilliant opportunity!"

York Minster's Great East Window is the inspiration for the garden and work is well underway to create a replica which will be the focal point for the garden's design.

York Glaziers Trust are using the same hand-blown glass being used to painstakingly restore the largest single expanse of medieval stained glass in the UK.

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