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


Sponsorship – Ottery St Mary Table Tennis Club

Sponsorship for extra shirts!

Our Ottery St Mary garden centre has provided sponsorship for additional club shirts for Ottery St Mary Table Tennis Club after the club experienced unexpected growth.

We originally helped the club with new shirts for the existing three teams in 2017 – but after more players signed up, members realised more shirts were needed.

Presenting the extra shirts to the club, Otter Garden Centres Manager John Giblin said how much of a pleasure it was to be able to provide ongoing support to the club in this way. “We’re delighted that so many new players have joined over the past year.”

The club, which has been in existence in the town for around 25 years, now boasts five teams and 20 league players including several younger players. Currently the ‘A’ team is in third place in the Exeter & District League First Division whilst the ‘B’ team is top of the Second Division.

Members meet to practice on Tuesdays at Colin Tooze sports centre with league matches taking place at The Institute. New members are always welcome.

Find out more by clicking here.

Brave the Shave Take 2

Brave the Shave for DAAT

For the second year in a row, Richard Vanstone from our Torbay garden centre had his head shaved to raise funds for Devon Air Ambulance.

The shave was part of our Torbay garden centre’s fundraising for chosen charity of the year, the much loved air ambulance service.

Event organiser, Julia Stone said: “Richard braved the shave in 2017 for the same cause. He then decided not to have a haircut for a whole year, giving our Branch Manager Emma Devonald a most satisfying task when she agreed to tackle Richard’s hair.

Emma wielded the clippers and customers looked on with great amusement as Richard’s locks fell to the floor.

The event raised over £250 so a big well done to Richard and the team.

Other fundraising activities this year include an entertaining animated reindeer display, which last year raised in excess of £2,600 for DAAT – so please give generously so we can beat that total.

Thank you!

Brave the Shave

Silver Awards for Otter Preserves

Preserves go Silver!

Blackcurrant jam and marmalade made at Otter Garden Centres scooped silver in the Producers category at the recent Food Drink Devon Awards.

The preserves are made in the kitchens at the garden centre in Ottery St Mary by Liz Lee and her team using traditional methods with a high fruit ratio. Liz has built up quite a following with regular customers, who sometimes call ahead to make sure their favourite flavours are in stock.

Restaurant Manager, Simon Raynor said: “Our homemade range has proved very popular; some of the jams are served with cream teas in the restaurant, and we also have a display of jars for purchase.

“As a garden centre known for growing quality plants, we’re also proud to be producers of quality food.”

This year, for the first time, Victoria plum jam has been added to the selection. The fruit was collected locally by staff after the warm summer led to a glut of plums.

As well as preserves, the kitchen team also produce cranberry sauce and Christmas puddings in three sizes. Some customers place orders each year for Liz’s puds, available with or without peel.

The two silver awards are the latest in a line of awards for our own produce, which includes last year’s gold award winners, strawberry and raspberry jam.

Liz Lee with Simon Raynor

Silver award

Charity Fundraising – Torbay

Charity Fundraising Headshave

Our three Devon garden centres, in Ottery St Mary, Plymouth and Torbay, are all organising charity fundraising events for Devon Air Ambulance Trust this year.

Our Torbay garden centre also supported the charity in 2017, raising almost £4,500 through a series of inventive fundraising events.

One of the most memorable events was a headshave, when Richard had his locks shorn, sponsored by colleagues and customers.

Brave the Shave 2018

Well, Richard is once again ‘braving the shave’ to fundraise.

The event is on Friday 19th October at 11am.

We would love our customers to come and help us cheer Richard along and support our fundraising.

See you then!

Brave the shave poster


Otter Garden Centres Autumn Malvern Offer – Extended

Autumn Malvern offer – 20% discount extended to end November 2018

If you’ve been thinking about buying a garden building, now is a great time to do it with our Autumn Malvern offer! You can see many of the options in our Ottery St Mary branch.

Fancy a home office, extra storage or somewhere to sit and enjoy your garden in all weathers? Malvern has a garden building to suit.

Malvern Offer 20% discount