School Dinners from Otter!

Normally our restaurant in Ottery is very busy on a Sunday, with 8 chefs, 14 kitchen assistants and 10 waiting staff managing our popular Sunday Roast service. Today two of our chefs were delighted to be back in the kitchen again – this time working on a voluntary basis, although unlike their usual work environment it has been very quiet in the kitchen!  Today…. you could hear a pin drop!

Although the restaurant is closed to customers, our two chefs – Neil & Arron – were kept very busy. The reason?  They have been making 300 school dinners for local schools for the children of key workers, and for delivery to vulnerable children.

We’d learned that one hard working school cook was being asked to cook school meals seven days a week for a fortnight over the Easter period. The schools have stayed open every day to support the children of key workers doing vital jobs to keep us all safe. Additionally, there are a number of vulnerable children who require a meal delivered to them each day.

As we have a large commercial kitchen currently standing empty, we volunteered to help by making and donating the meals so that the school cook can at least have two days off work next week.  When she learned she could have two days off the school cook was over the moon! Before the coronavirus outbreak she was due to be going away holiday over Easter, so not only was she missing her cancelled holiday, she was also expecting to have to be in work every day. We are so pleased to step in and help, and give her a bit of a break.

MD of Otter, Jacqui Taylor, has pledged that if the situation continues, Otter will be pleased to cook and supply meals each week. “Everyone wants to help the NHS teams and all key workers right now. We are thrilled that this is something practical that we can do, and it’s one way we can donate our help whilst we are closed.”

The ‘Otter School Meal Menu’ this week includes:

Roast chicken with roast potatoes and vegetables, home-made chicken pie with mash potatoes and vegetables, and home-made cottage pie with peas and carrots

And for the all-important pudding, an apple or orange, along with a slice of home-made flapjack or shortbread!

TAUNTON customers – Spring Bedding Plant Pack Offer – a few packs remaining

Mystery Spring Bedding Plants Pack worth £60, for just £30. Free delivery within 7 miles of our Taunton garden centre based on Pen Elm Hill, Norton Fitzwarren

Our spring bedding pack offer has been put together to help ensure we save our plants, and that they go to good homes. With Easter around the corner, what could be a nicer time to cheer up the garden.

Each pack will be unique, made up with available spring bedding plants and will include one bag of compost. The pack may include pansies, primroses, polyanthus or other spring flowering plants. Although we can’t guarantee what plants you’ll receive, or the colours, we can guarantee the plants will bring instant colourful cheer to your garden! Included in each pack will be one 50L bag of Manor Farm all-purpose compost.

As we are working with a very small team at this difficult time, and with limited drivers we will only be able to deliver to addresses up to 7 miles distance from our TAUNTON garden centre and we will not be able to add any other products onto this delivery.

Deliveries will be made between Monday 6th & Wednesday 8th April. Our drivers are following safety procedures in line with current government advice and will leave the plant pack at your front door. We are sorry the drivers will not be able to lift the plants or compost into your house or to rear gardens.

If you are interested in this offer please send us a message through our website contact form and select ‘Taunton’ store. Please include your full address with postcode and your phone number so we can contact you to arrange payment and confirm delivery. We cannot process requests without address & postcode details – sorry!

We only have a small number of packs available so would recommend you contact us by 5pm on Sunday 5th April.

Click this link to send us a message https://www.ottergardencentres.com/contact-us/

Thank you for your continued support we look forward to welcoming you back into our garden centres as soon as we are advised it is safe to do so.

Stay Home & Stay Safe from all the Otter team.

Spring Bedding Plant Pack Offer – SOLD OUT

Mystery Spring Bedding Plants Pack worth £60, for just £30. Free delivery within 7 miles of our Ottery St Mary garden centre

WE ARE SORRY, WE HAVE NOW SOLD OUT OF THIS OFFER, PLEASE DON’T CONTACT US – WE ARE SORRY WE HAVE NO STOCK LEFT!

Our spring bedding pack offer has been put together to help ensure we save our plants, and that they go to good homes. With Easter around the corner, what could be a nicer time to cheer up the garden.

Each pack will be unique, made up with available spring bedding plants and will include one bag of compost. The pack may include pansies, primroses, polyanthus or other spring flowering plants. Although we can’t guarantee what plants you’ll receive, or the colours, we can guarantee the plants will bring instant colourful cheer to your garden! Included in each pack will be one 50L bag of Manor Farm all-purpose compost.

As we are working with a very small team at this difficult time, and with limited drivers we will only be able to deliver to addresses up to 7 miles distance from our garden centre in Gosford Road, Ottery St Mary, Devon and we will not be able to add any other products onto this delivery. (We will deliver to Sidford & Sidmouth).

Stocks were very limited  of these packs, and this offer sold out very quickly, we are very sorry that we can no longer accept any requests.

Deliveries will be made between Monday 6th & Wednesday 8th April. Our drivers are following safety procedures in line with current government advice and will leave the plant pack at your front door. We are sorry the drivers will not be able to lift the plants or compost into your house or to rear gardens.

Please include your full address with postcode and your phone number so we can contact you to arrange payment and confirm delivery. We cannot process requests without address & postcode details – sorry!

We are expecting a large response to this offer so we apologise that we may not get back to you immediately.

Thank you for your continued support we look forward to welcoming you back into our garden centres as soon as we are advised it is safe to do so.

Stay Home & Stay Safe from all the Otter team.

Not sure which seeds to choose?

If you’d like to start seed sowing whilst you are at home but not sure which seeds to buy, we can help you!

By clicking on the link at the bottom you’ll find a helpful chart which provides excellent information on seed sowing and harvesting times, along with a guide on which seeds can be sown directly outdoors into the soil, and which need to be started inside. We are now providing a postal service for seeds, click here to see our news post for more information on this service.

Happy Sowing & Growing from Otter!

Please click below :-

Seed Sowing Guide

Seeds – new postal service

Whilst the last few weeks have been challenging for all of us, here at Otter we have spent much time thinking how we can continue to support our loyal customers and also introduce more families to gardening at this difficult time. Although we are not able to offer a home delivery service for larger items such as compost, from today we are trialling a new telephone order service where will be able to take orders for seed packets which we will post to your home address with Royal Mail.

All you need to do is to call one of our “Seed Hotline” numbers, where one of our team members will take details of your order and discuss postage costs with you. We are sorry that we can only post to addresses in the UK, and the quantity will be limited to what can fit into a large envelope.

We have excellent stock of all seeds including vegetables, salad, herbs, summer bedding, flower seeds, perfect for pollinators, and much more. We also have a range of ‘Mr Men’ seeds from Thompson & Morgan suitable for children, so this may be the ideal time to introduce them to gardening and the joys of seed sowing! The brands we have in stock include Thompson & Morgan, Johnsons, Mr Fothergill’s, Mr Fothergill’s David Domoney range and Mr Fothergill’s RHS range.

Please call one of our three dedicated “Seed Hotline” numbers below between 9.30am and 4pm Monday to Friday. If you can’t get through, please try another number, or call us back later:

01404 816833    –   01404 816844   –   01404 816822

We are sorry, our Seed Hotline phone lines are only available Monday to Friday, our team will be taking a well earned rest at the weekend.

As we are in uncertain times, we will continue to offer this service as long as it is safe for our team members to do so.

Happy Sowing and Growing from all the Otter Team!

Support for Shekinah Mission

Staff and customers at our Plymouth garden centre raised over £3,550 during 2019 for local charity Shekinah Mission.

Donations came through a variety of events and initiatives, from the collecting tins at the tills to staff raffles, plus a visit from traditional woodturners who generously donated £350. In addition, the Christmas launch day and festive animation displays featuring a popular group of singing penguins and talking reindeer also attracted plenty of donations from customers. Fundraising was kept on track by our Plymouth Front of House Manager & Events Coordinator, Adele.

Shekinah is a Devon and Cornwall based charity that supports people experiencing homelessness predominately rough sleeping, and anyone experiencing issues with addiction, criminality or mental health issues. The charity treats everyone as individuals, working with them so they can continue their journey which may be back into housing or employment.

Shekinah’s Community, Events and Enterprise Manager Andy Kebby says “The support from all the team at Otter Garden Centre at Plymouth has been amazing; the company has been very generous as they also donated tools and raffle prizes throughout the year which helped us a great deal.”

The money raised will be spent on keeping a 365-day service at the charity’s Drop In Centre on Bath Street.

Andy explains “Anyone accessing our services at the Drop In Centre will get support with benefit and debt advice, housing support and advice, access to health professionals such as GPs, mental health workers and support with addiction or criminality. We also have a team of Navigators who work with a caseload of people to help them back into their own accommodation, which runs a 7 day a week support service.

“We receive very little funding to keep our Drop In open so we rely on the generosity of businesses and members of the public to raise funds or donate money so we can continue to help people who really need it the most.”

In 2020, Otter Garden Centre Plymouth is supporting the RNLI, as chosen by the staff who were keen to support a charity with relevance to the coastal area they live and work in.

Fantastic fundraising for Hospiscare

The charity team at our Ottery St Mary Garden Centre has revealed a fantastic total of over £11,500 raised for 2019 charity of the year, Hospiscare.

Branch Manager, John Giblin says “Our fundraising efforts were helped immensely by the help we had from the Otter Vale Friends of Hospiscare, a local group of volunteers who supported many of our fundraising activities. They were amazing and worked really hard to make the partnership a success, which is reflected in the brilliant amount raised.”

The volunteers were headed up by Steve Pearcy, whose wife received end of life support from the adult hospice charity.

Events run throughout the year included a tombola at the garden centre in April and another at the Ottery Food & Families Festival in June. Fundraising at staff-held quiz nights and two bingo nights, was terrific.

John says “On one of the bingo nights the weather was terrible and we were worried we’d have a low turnout – we were amazed as family members and friends of the Hospiscare volunteers kept coming through the doors – in the end the event was a huge success and on its own raised over £1,000 for the charity!”

Richard Cousins from Hospiscare adds: “I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the fundraising over the year; our amazing volunteers, all the wonderful staff at Otter Garden Centre, and customers who donated so generously. The money raised will cover the costs of 225 visits by Hospiscare nurses to patients in the East Devon area and will allow us as a charity to really make a difference in the local community.”

The branch will continue its support of Hospiscare in 2020 as the charity launches its Hospiscare@Home appeal in East Devon, and the volunteers from Otter Vale Friends are looking forward to another successful fundraising year and to equal – if not better – last year’s total.

Laying the path to a better experience

Our Ottery St Mary team were pleased to help out at the WESC Foundation at West Hill recently by laying tarmac paths on the site.

This means that there is vastly improved access for wheelchairs, and better access for students and community users to get to all parts of the site, including areas that were previously inaccessible.

Jane Bell, CEO of WESC Foundation said: “Taking on the West Hill site has transformed the way in which our young people (and now other community groups) can experience the natural world.

“None of that would have been possible without the support of Jacqui Taylor and the Otter Garden Centres team, who have provided invaluable advice and practical support on a number of projects including the recent improvements to the paths.”

The WESC Country Works is a horticulture/forest project just off the A30 at Daisymount, not far from our garden centre in Ottery. The project offers outdoor learning experiences to anyone regardless of their disability, including the children and young people from across the WESC Foundation community. The experience can include forest school, tree planting, herb cultivation and increasing biodiversity, as well as growing vegetables either to use in cookery classes or sell to shops or at food markets in the local area.

WESC Foundation took over the management of the site in January 2017 and since then the plot has been redeveloped to become a great spaced for young people and adults who are disadvantaged through various disabilities by providing fun activities, new experiences and training.

The project is run by WESC staff and numerous volunteers, with the help of local businesses like ours.

RNLI Torbay Fundraising

RNLI funds Blooming with Torbay Branch

The team at our Torbay garden centre has announced the total raised by the branch for the RNLI in the run up to Christmas. The announcement was celebrated with a visit from ‘Stormy Sam’.

Over £1,200 was raised in just three months for the charity that is reliant on voluntary donations to power its lifesaving work at sea, through the charity boxes at the tills and donations made to two popular animated displays which entertained customers over the Christmas period – musical polar bears and a group of singing reindeer. In addition, offcuts from Christmas trees were made available to customers to use as table decorations in exchange for a donation.

Julia Stone, Charity Champion at Otter Garden Centre Torbay said: “We only started the fundraising in October so we are delighted to hand over such a sizeable chunk of money to the Torbay branch of the RNLI. As always, thanks are due to all our customers who never fail to amaze us with their generosity.”

The team has decided to continue supporting the RNLI in 2020, and with such a great response in just three months the branch is really looking to push the boat out for the RNLI over a whole year. They will be organising various fundraising events which will include a photo competition and, back by popular demand, a fundraising head shave!

Lynn Spillett Chair of Torbay Lifeboat Fundraisers said that donations from local businesses such as Otter Garden Centre Torbay are vital in assisting the overall RNLI/Torbay Lifeboat fundraising in the Bay. “We very much appreciate and welcome their support.  All Otter Garden Centre donations go towards Saving Lives at Sea,” she explained.

Every year, volunteer RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards help and rescue thousands of people; they have saved well over 142,700 lives since the organisation was founded in 1824. The Torbay Lifeboat branch is based in Brixham, where the volunteer crews are frequently called out to all areas of Torbay, Lyme Bay and beyond when needed, helping to save lives at sea.

Check back on our Torbay web page for details of upcoming fundraising events.

Supporting the blood bikes – take two!

For the second year in a row, our Wincanton branch raised funds for local blood bike charity, Yeovil Freewheelers EVS.

During 2019, just over £1600 was raised through a combination of collecting tins at the tills and visits from the blood bikes. The animated reindeer Christmas display that proved so popular in the previous year once again attracted plenty of donations.

Branch Manager, Alex Provis said: “The Yeovil Freewheelers charity provides an important, lifesaving service which is fully funded by the public and local businesses.

“2019 was perhaps an unsettling year for many people, so we are very grateful that our customers were still eager to donate. A big thank you to everyone who donated, no matter how small or large.”

YFW Blood Bikes is run by Yeovil Freewheelers (EVS), an Emergency Volunteer Service which supports Yeovil District Hospital, Dorset County Hospital and the community hospitals across the region by providing emergency courier services for blood, platelets, blood and tissue samples, medication, breast milk, documents, X rays, CT scans and equipment. It is estimated that the charity saves the NHS over £200,000 a year.

Founded in 1978, Yeovil Freewheelers EVS is the oldest operational blood bike group in the UK. All riders are unpaid volunteers.

 

https://www.yfwbloodbikes.org/