Countryfile star opens ‘fantastic’ new cabin and workshop

Our therapeutic allotment at Montpellier received a special visit on Friday from farmer and BBC TV presenter Adam Henson, who dropped in to officially open the site’s newly-constructed cabin and workshop.

The purpose-built building is the latest addition to the site on Horton Road in Gloucester, which has been transformed in recent years, thanks to the efforts of service users and colleagues at Montpellier Low Secure Unit.

Before cutting the ribbon to officially open the new cabin, Adam received a tour of the allotment from project lead Victoria Woodruff and service user Roger – a key member of the project team, who has been instrumental in the site’s amazing transformation. Roger forms part of a working party headed up by Victoria, Senior Occupational Therapist and Exercise Activity Practitioner Team Leader at Montpellier, and comprises fellow service users, occupational therapists and colleagues from Montpellier Low Secure Unit.

Victoria is the driving force behind the project, which has seen the site completely transformed over the past couple of years. Victoria and Expert by Experience Kevin Mackenzie formed a joint working party in late 2021 to oversee the project. Their primary objectives were to improve the site’s accessibility and facilities, while creating a sustainable and environmentally-friendly green space and therapeutic resource for patients, colleagues and the local community to enjoy.

Victoria said: “We were delighted and truly honoured to welcome Adam to officially open our fantastic new cabin and workshop today.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came along to celebrate the opening with us. I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise the huge contribution of our service users, experts by experience, carers, staff and all of the support staff around us, who have made this project the success that it is.

“The allotment is an amazing space which brings a lot of enjoyment and occupation to a large number of people. It’s a complete oasis in the middle of the city, where we can spend time alongside our service users, enabling them to establish roles and routines, maintain existing skills and develop new ones.”

What was once a desolate and neglected piece of land is now a tranquil retreat, regularly accessed for rehabilitation, development and meaningful engagement by patients at Montpellier, and those who access our Trust’s services countywide.

Since the redevelopment project began in late 2021, the site has benefitted from:

  • the introduction of wheelchair and improved access by relocation of the entrance and the introduction of level pathways
  • refurbishment of the existing greenhouses
  • the planting of additional raised vegetable and flower beds
  • the installation of a wildlife pond with levelled viewing platform
  • the installation of a Koi Carp pond
  • construction of a bird aviary, housing quails and finches
  • establishment of a nature reserve, utilising existing woodland and the introduction of native trees and vegetation
  • demolition of the existing chicken coop and the relocation of the hens to a free-range paddock.

There are also areas to grow and cultivate produce, which is used in cookery programmes.

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