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.

Plymouth Garden Reuse and Create Challenge

Radio Plymouth and Otter Garden Centres are delighted to be running our Garden Reuse and Create Challenge with primary schools across Plymouth, to give away two raised beds with compost and plants, so the winning school can ‘grow their own’ this spring and summer!

There will be two runners up, each taking away a £50 Otter Garden Centres voucher for their school.

We want primary aged children to design something found in the garden, re-using items that would otherwise be thrown away! The creation might be a plant, flower, tree, wildlife (insect, bird, butterfly), made from recycled materials.

This is an opportunity to get creative – there are no other limitations. All you need to do is enjoy making your garden creation.

Don’t leave it too long as entry closes on Friday 29th March at midnight.

To enter, click HERE

March Flower Arranging Workshop – Ottery St Mary

Tuesday 19th March – flower arranging workshop in Ottery

Join us for our seasonal flower arranging workshop in the Otter Garden Centre restaurant in Ottery St Mary

2.30 to 4.30pm

The price of £15 includes tea/coffee and cake, tuition from experienced tutor Tracy Johnson and all materials including flowers. You will take your arrangement home with you after the workshop.

Flower arrangementThis month you will be making a ‘Pretty Basket’ arrangement.

Booking and pre-payment are required as Tracy needs to bring exactly the right amount of materials and flowers. Please don’t simply turn up on the day.

To book, please visit the main shop tills or call us on 01404 815815.

We look forward to seeing you at our next flower arranging workshop.

Future workshop dates, all Tuesdays:

  • April 30th
  • May 21st
  • June 18th
  • July 16th
  • Aug 20th
  • Sep 17th
  • Oct 15th
  • Nov 19th
  • Dec 10th

Wincanton charity total for Yeovil Freewheelers EVS

Otter Garden Centre in Wincanton has announced the charity total raised during 2018 for charity of the year, Yeovil Freewheelers. We are delighted to reveal that the final amount came to just under £2,000.

How we did it

Funds were raised through collecting tins at the tills and four door collections manned by members of the Freewheelers. Additionally, customers donated generously into buckets next to the extremely popular animated reindeer display that ran during the Christmas period.

Wincanton Branch Manager Alex Provis says a huge thank you to all customers who dug deep to help us raise this figure. Every penny counts for this local charity. The Wincanton team are delighted to have been able to support them with this donation.

There’s more good news for the Freewheelers too, as the Wincanton team is continuing to support them as charity of the year throughout 2019.

The charity

Yeovil Freewheelers blood bikeYeovil Freewheelers EVS is the oldest operational blood bike group in the UK. It provides a unique out-of-hours free courier service carrying urgently needed medical items. These include blood, medical notes, medicines and biological samples between different hospitals and patients in their homes. The ‘blood bikes’ serve the South Somerset and North Dorset areas.

It costs a minimum of £35,000 a year to maintain the free service to the NHS. This is provided by support from the public and local businesses.

To find out more about Yeovil Freewheelers, click here.

Ottery St Mary charity total for Alzheimer’s Society

Supporting the fight against dementia

The charity team at Otter Garden Centres in Ottery St Mary has revealed the total raised for 2018 charity of the year, Alzheimer’s Society. This came to just over £8,000 and beats last year’s charity total. The money will help fund services across Devon as well as important research into dementia.

How we did it

Staff quizzes and the annual Memory Tree helped fundraising efforts. The largest amounts came from donations given on the land train taking visitors to Santa’s Grotto and a group of animated acapella penguins, which were a real hit in the Plants Centre; together these raised £3,000.

Claire Frost, Community Fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society in Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly said: “We are extremely grateful to the staff and customers at Otter Garden Centres for all of the time and energy they put into their fundraising for Alzheimer’s Society.

“The money they’ve raised will help to transform the lives of everyone affected by dementia, through support and creating lasting change for the 84,000 people estimated to be living with dementia in the South West. We want everyone affected by dementia to know that whoever you are, whatever you are going through, you can turn to Alzheimer’s Society for support, help and advice.”

Alzheimer’s Society services in Devon

Alzheimer’s Society provides a number of services across Devon. The charity’s dementia support workers offer information and practical guidance to help people understand dementia, cope with day-to-day challenges and prepare for the future through its Devon and Torbay Dementia Advisor service. Other services include a telephone helpline and online forum ‘Talking Point’, a helpful online community where anyone who is affected by dementia can receive valuable support.

Local ‘Singing for the Brain’ groups, based around the principles of music therapy, provide people affected by dementia an opportunity to meet new people in a friendly, fun and social environment. The charity also operates a number of memory cafes across Devon. These informal groups allow people in a similar situation to get together for a chat over a cup of tea, or coffee, and the chance to take part in a variety of activities.

As well as supporting services, money raised for Alzheimer’s Society also helps to fund research into the cause, care, cure and prevention of all types of dementia.

Alzheimer’s Society

  • Alzheimer’s Society is the UK’s leading dementia charity. We provide information and support, fund research, campaign to improve care and create lasting change for people affected by dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Dementia devastates lives. Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 850,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia. By 2021, 1 million people will be living with the condition. This will soar to two million by 2051.
  • Dementia deaths are rising year on year and 225,000 will develop dementia this year – that’s one every three minutes.
  • Dementia costs the UK economy over £26 billion per year. This is the equivalent of more than £30,000 per person with dementia.
  • Alzheimer’s Society funds research into the cause, care, cure and prevention of all types of dementia and has committed to spend at least £150 million on research over the next decade. This includes a £50 million investment in the UK’s first dedicated Dementia Research Institute.
  • Alzheimer’s Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0300 222 11 22 or visit the website.

Christmas Tree for Redhills Primary

Christmas cheer!

We were delighted to donate a Christmas tree to Redhills Primary School in Exeter.

The school wrote to us with their request telling us that they only had an old artificial tree, which, in their words, had ‘seen better days’!

They also told us that the school hadn’t had a real Christmas tree for many years and that quite a few of their students had never had a real tree at home.

Although we sell many artificial trees, which are incredibly lifelike these days, we are big fans of the ‘real thing’.

So the Otter team got together and agreed to donate a beautiful, real tree to the school. We think you’ll agree, it looks great!

Happy Christmas to all the students and the teachers at Redhill Primary School.

Redhills Primary Christmas Tree


Christmas Memory Trees

Each year, we put up Memory Trees to support the fundraising we carry out for our chosen charities.

The idea behind a memory tree is to remember loved ones at Christmas time. People like to use the tree to remember:

  • Parents
  • Relatives
  • Friends
  • Pets

Ottery St Mary Memory Tree

In our Ottery St Mary Garden Centre, customers can buy a ribbon in red (£1) or gold (£5) and a card on which to write a message for their loved one. These are then attached to the tree.

The Memory Tree in Ottery is fundraising for Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia support and research charity, which provides support for anyone affected by any form of dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

You can find the tree in the Plants Centre, opposite the main shop.

Plymouth Memory Tree

In our Plymouth Garden Centre, customers can make a donation into a collecting tin and add a note to the tree.

The Memory Tree in Plymouth is fundraising for local charity, Dementia Friendly Parishes Around the Yealm. This charity is made up of five rural parishes around the River  Yealm in South Devon which have come together to improve and change the lives of people with dementia and their carers.

The tree is situated by the tills at the exit.

Thank You

Our Memory Trees are always popular, helping us to raise significant amounts for our charities.

Throughout the year, customers and staff are always generous in support of our fundraising. Our warmest thanks for your support.

Christmas Card Competition – Plymouth

Our annual ‘Design a Christmas Card’ competition run together with Radio Plymouth was a runaway success!

The standard of entries this year made it really tough to choose a winner – but after much thinking we narrowed it down to one winner and two runners up.

Congratulations to winner Ruby from Laira Green School. Her beautiful design of Santa and his sleigh won a Christmas tree and decorations for her school. In addition, she won Christmas cards for everyone in her class!

Our brilliant runners up were:

  • Destiny from Longcause Community School
  • Annette from Hooe Primary

Both our runners up won festive goodie bags.

Well done to everyone who took part in the competition, we were really impressed with all the lovely designs.Plymouth Christmas card winners