Good luck to Hannah from our Taunton branch!

We’re very proud of team member Hannah Taunton who will be representing GB in the World Para-athletics Championship which is being held in Dubai from 7th to 15th November. Hannah will be competing in the 1500 metres in the T20 category. Hannah’s personal best of 4 minutes 39.36 seconds currently ranks her third in the world in her category. This will be her debut in the Championship.

Hannah grew up in Taunton and attended Castle School. Coached by Charlotte Fisher, Hannah is well known as a runner locally having previously won the Taunton 10K and half marathon. She’s been a member of our plant area team at our Taunton garden centre since September 2016. Her colleague Abbie Lee says she is a truly inspirational young lady!

Everyone at Otter would like to wish Hannah the very best of luck. Fingers crossed for a medal!

Food Drink Devon Awards

New Silver Award for our Jams!

We are delighted to have had Silver award success at the recent Food Drink Devon Awards. The awards event, which celebrated Devon’s finest food and drink producers, hospitality and catering businesses and specialist retailers, was held at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay. Keeping the excited crowd in check – presenter Kerry White from BBC Radio Devon.

The room was filled with such an array of talented food and drink specialists; on our table we were fortunate enough to have the team from Tambapanni – we were so pleased when they won the Best Street Food award. Other winners on the night included Eversfield Organic, with the Best Producer award. We were delighted to see Otter Vale on the winners’ podium too as we stock some of their wonderful chutneys.

For Otter Garden Centres success came in the form of a Silver award for our Victoria plum jam. The jam was added to the range last year and the fruit for the jam was collected locally to Ottery St Mary.

The silver award-winning jam joins our other winners; raspberry and strawberry which have been awarded gold in previous years, blackcurrant jam and marmalade, both silver winners.  You can find out more about the awards and the Food Drink Devon organisation by visiting their website: https://www.foodanddrinkdevon.co.uk/2019-awards

Supporting the Show!

We recently sponsored the Bishopsteignton Village Show, which was held on the 7th and 8th September. This was the 24th village show, showcasing the horticulture, culinary, domestic and creative skills of the local people.

Over 100 villagers entered around 400 exhibits. These included photography, handcrafts, fresh produce and flowers grown in village gardens. Floral Art displays were a stunning sight to behold. 250 children’s paintings were on show – and the children thoroughly enjoyed the inspirational ‘Vegetable Lego’ table where they got very inventive with cucumbers, carrots and fruit – building cars, spaceships and other creations. After they’d made their creations, they enjoyed eating them!

We were delighted to be involved as sponsors with the Village Show for the first time. Several of the team from our Jack’s Patch garden centre enjoyed visiting the event and partaking of a cuppa and cake, pictured is Jack’s Patch team member Dan Williams. Refreshments were provided by the Lunch Club ladies.

Food & Drink Devon Awards Finalist

We are delighted to have been named as a finalist in the Producer category of the Food Drink Devon Awards, especially as there were a record number of entries this year.

The products we entered were our new lemon & lime marmalade and Victoria plum jam. The plum jam was made using plums collected locally, so we are doubly proud of this product as being a true example of local produce. Both were made in the restaurant kitchens in our Ottery St Mary garden centre.

250 products were tasted before being given one of three awards: platinum for a perfect 100% score, gold for 90-99%, and silver for 85-89%.

Over the past few years we have been delighted to be awarded golds and silvers for our preserves, with our raspberry jam regularly proving to be a top performer.

We look forward to learning how our new products fared at the awards ceremony on Monday 7th October. The ceremony is being held at the Imperial Hotel, Torquay and hosted by BBC Radio Devon’s Kerry White.  Wish us luck!

At the Chelsea Flower Show

The highlight of the gardener’s calendar, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a hugely popular event.

It’s the place to go to find out about new plants and gardening ideas. Visitors can see swathes of beautiful colour in displays of The Great Pavilion. Then – of course – there are the amazing show and artisan gardens which this year included the Back to Nature Garden co-designed by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Andrée Davies and Adam White. Another 2019 showstopper was the D-Day 75 Garden, featuring a life-size stone statue of D-Day veteran Bill Pendell MM.

Many visitors to the show love shopping too! There’s always a huge range of gardening goodies on offer, from practical accessories to garden art.

Otter Garden Centres is pleased to be an ongoing sponsor of the delightful show stand of Robert James.

Robert Ellis and James Copplestone have worked together for 30 years or so from their workshop in Bridport, Dorset, making beautiful bronze statues inspired by their love of literature.

This year the show stand featured Watership Down and Beatrix Potter characters alongside much-loved favourites from Alice in Wonderland. Any of these would be a lovely addition to any garden.

We think the stand looks great, and the plants from Otter look fabulous, too. It is lovely to have a presence at the amazing Chelsea Flower Show!

To watch a video showing the highlights of the 2019 show, click here.

Robert James Show Stand Robert James Show Stand Robert James Show Stand


Robert James Show Stand

Garden Reuse and Create Challenge – Winners

Earlier this year we launched our Garden Reuse and Create Challenge in association with Radio Plymouth.

The challenge was for Plymouth primary school children to make something creative using items no longer needed, that they found in the garden.

We are delighted to announce the winner, Lana from St Joseph’s RC Primary School in Devonport. Lana won two raised beds with compost and plants for her school. This means that the winning school can have lots of fun ‘growing their own’ this summer! Well done to Lana.



There were also two runners up in the competition.

Firstly, Claudia from Manadon Vale Primary School – this is Claudia’s creation:

Runner up creation

And secondly, Mila from Plymouth School for Creative Arts – here’s Mila’s creation:

Recycled creation

Thank you to everyone who took part, we were very impressed with all your ideas!

Headline Sponsor for Ottery St Mary Food & Families Festival

Otter Garden Centre in Ottery St Mary is pleased to be headline sponsor for the Ottery St Mary Food & Families Festival for the fifth year in a row!

The festival is now in its seventh year and will be returning to the town on Saturday 1 June. It always draws a huge crowd of visitors to Ottery St Mary for the day to enjoy local food stalls, chef demonstrations and entertainment.

There’s over 30 market trader stalls, a full programme of live music and entertainment, high quality cookery demonstrations, kids’ crafts activities and more. This is a fun, family-friendly and food focussed event perfect for all to enjoy.

Hot food stalls this year include Coldharbour Farm, Good Game, Kinori – Not Just Sushi and Samosa Lady. Meanwhile, the street market will be showcasing local producers such as Angel Chops, Bam Food, Bloomberry Juice, Dark Place Brewery, Forest Fungi Shroom, Littlestone Coffee Roasters and White Lake Cheese.

Otter Garden Centre Branch Manager, John Giblin says that the company is delighted to be the headline sponsor again for the 2019 event. “This is a popular festival that attracts people from far and wide to enjoy the town and explore all that Ottery has to offer.”

Lead festival organiser, Ruud Jansen Venneboer adds: “The festival team extends thanks to Otter Garden Centre for agreeing to support the festival, which is run by the local community for the local community. This year looks to be a standout year and we look forward to welcoming more visitors than ever to the town on 1 June to celebrate.”

The biggest festival auction to date has a range of exciting prizes up for grabs. Check the new website and the dedicated Facebook page to find out more.

Charities update 2019

Each year Otter Garden Centres supports a variety of charities. These are sometimes local and sometimes national.

Our individual garden centres choose the charity they wish to support and organise their own fundraising activities. During 2019 we are supporting:

Ottery St Mary – Hospiscare

Hospiscare was founded in 1982 to provide high quality care and support to people with a progressive life-limiting illness and those close to them living in Exeter, East and Mid Devon.

There are now three hospices: Searle House Hospice in Exeter with 12 beds, offering specialist nursing, medical treatment and care for complex needs and a Wellbeing Suite for day patients. Pine Lodge Day Hospice in Tiverton and Kings House Day Hospice in Honiton provide day services with specialist nursing care, carer respite, support and a range of therapies, such as massage, nail care and crafts.

Services are provided to patients and their families for free.

Plymouth – Shekinah Mission

Shekinah is a Devon & Cornwall based charity that provides opportunities for people in recovery or seeking recovery. This may include recovery from homelessness, drug and alcohol issues, offending behaviours or mental ill health.

Over the last 25 years Shekinah has developed a comprehensive range of services for people and can help with housing, drug and alcohol advice, benefit advice, training, education, employment or just offer a listening ear.

Torbay – Step One

Step One started in 1937 when Dame Georgiana Buller DBE set up St Loye’s College with a vision that support should be available for people with disabilities to develop skills and achieve their potential, overcoming any barriers they faced in society.

St Loye’s merged with Community Care Trust in 2015 and now as Step One provides a range of support to enable people to manage their mental wellbeing and take a positive step forward to achieving their goals.

Wincanton – Yeovil Freewheelers

Yeovil Freewheelers EVS provides a unique out-of-hours free courier service between different hospitals and patients in their homes across the whole South Somerset and North Dorset area.

The service was founded in 1978 by Cecil Turner and is the oldest operational blood bike group in the country. It operates a fleet of three motorcycles carrying urgently needed medical items such as blood, biological samples, medical notes, x-rays and medicines. The service is provided completely free of charge to the NHS and all members of Yeovil Freewheelers are unpaid volunteers.

Thank you to all staff and customers who help us to fundraise during the year, making a big difference to these hardworking charities. We look forward to updating you with the totals raised early in 2020.

Plymouth charity total for Dementia Friendly Parishes

In our final reveal for charity fundraising during 2018, it’s a big well done to our Plymouth team which has announced a total of £3,200 raised for Dementia Friendly Parishes Around the Yealm.

Funds were raised through raffles, face painting, a visit from woodturners and the wonderful animated singing penguin display at Christmas.

The charity, which has been running for seven years, involves five rural parishes located around the River Yealm that have committed to improving and changing the lives of people with dementia and their carers through a community-wide, inclusive initiative.

Chair of the charity Liz Hitchins, said: “Too often a diagnosis of dementia causes a person and their family to withdraw from life. Our charity aims to support them in remaining active and involved in the community. Everyone at Otter Garden Centres has been fantastic; they have been great friends to the charity and given us a lot of publicity. Nothing was too much trouble – they are true dementia friends.”

Funds are used to finance a part-time project coordinator who visits those with dementia and their families to help them get involved in dementia friendly groups. These include walking, ‘share reading’ groups, gentle exercise and arts and crafts. “Our whole approach is one of inclusivity; all our activities are open to anyone from the local community. At Kitley House Hotel, for example, which we visit for afternoon tea, everyone chats together – it is simply a normal community event,” Liz explained.

Dementia Friendly Parishes also raises awareness by giving talks to groups on how to help and communicate with a person with dementia and by producing informative leaflets. All these enterprises are funded through donations from the public and businesses. During the past seven years the charity has provided support to more than 85 local families.

Otter Garden Centre Plymouth’s charity coordinator Adele Rundle added: “I would like to say a huge thank you to all our staff and our customers for their donations. It is such a worthy cause because dementia can happen to any one of us or our family members at any time. This is a local charity that we do not hear much about and we are pleased to have been able to help them.”

For 2019 the branch is supporting another very local charity, Shekinah Mission, which works with teenagers and adults in Plymouth and Torbay to tackle homelessness and social exclusion.

Torbay charity total for Devon Air Ambulance

The team at our Torbay garden centre is excited to announce the charity total for 2018, their second year of fundraising for Devon Air Ambulance.

A total of just under £4,000 was raised through various customer and staff events run throughout the year.

Intrepid employee Richard Vanstone had his head shaved for the second year in a row to help raise funds, whilst Alice Bamber, daughter of staff member Andrew Bamber, raised funds by creating Christmas animal decorations at school by recycling magazines. Another major fundraising attraction was an entertaining animated reindeer display at Christmas.

“Devon Air Ambulance, which helped over 1,100 patients during 2018, is a vital part of the Devon community,” said Branch Manager, Emma Devonald. “We’re pleased with the results of our fundraising efforts to support the charity.

“Our customers have been very generous with their donations once again, so many thanks to everyone who dug deep. I would also like to add a thank you to former employee Julia Stone – Julia has now left the garden centre but was a huge part of our fundraising efforts over the two years.”

Together with the £4,500 raised last year, this means the Torbay team has handed over around £8,500 to Devon Air Ambulance.

“We are extremely grateful to Otter Garden Centres for their continued support over the last two years in which time they have raised a significant amount of money for DAA,” added DAA Fundraising Manager, Tracy Owen.

“We would like to say a huge thank all of their staff and customers for their generous donations. Last year it cost £7.5 million to keep the service operational so every penny raised will make a real difference.”

For 2019 the team are raising funds for a local mental health charity, Step One.