Chris Parrott was injured twice while serving with 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment on two separate tours of Afghanistan. After being medically discharged two years ago at just 23 he went on to study horticulture with the help of funding from ABF The Soldier’s Charity.
Since then, he has been involved in the creation of The Soldiers’ Charity Garden at Chelsea to mark the centenary of World War One.
Entitled ‘No Man’s Land’, the garden, which has been designed by Charlotte Rowe, reflects how the landscape of the Western Front changed as a result of the conflict. It aims to serve as a poignant reminder of the hardships faced by those who served 100 years ago, while highlighting the work of The Soldiers’ Charity today in helping soldiers, veterans and their families.
Putting his training into practice, Parrott has been an integral part of the Brian Herbert Outdoor Options landscaping team building the ‘No Man’s Land’ garden. He has worked closely with Rowe, the nurseries, and at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court where seriously injured soldiers have been helping to grow plants for the garden as part of a new horticultural therapy facility.
He said: "Building a garden to commemorate those that died in World War One has been an emotional experience. I’ve seen my own share of bloodshed in battle but it’s hard to comprehend the devastation the First World War had on the lives of those involved and the landscape they fought in.
"When I left the army I experienced my own kind of ‘No Man’s Land’, I felt lost and quite alone but I soon found my way thanks to the support of my family and The Soldiers’ Charity. Being given the opportunity to re-train as a horticulturist has been brilliant and being involved in the creation of such a meaningful garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, well, it doesn’t get much better."
Birmingham City Council is also remembering those who fought in World War One in its Great Pavillion display. The installation, designed by head of parks Darren Share, will focus on the contribution Birmingham and its people made to the war and the effect it had on them.
Since 1944, The Soldiers’ Charity has been the national charity of the British Army, working with the Regimental and Corps charitable funds to give immediate, practical help to our soldiers and veterans.
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity has helped more than 6,000 individuals through grants to other military charities in areas such as mental health, housing and employment.