Hambrooks have been delighted to support local charity, Open Sight, with a new garden to help welcome visitors to their Bishopstoke centre. As part of the charity’s centenary celebrations, the garden was formally opened by HRH The Countess of Wessex on 17th November.
Open Sight offer a range of services for those with, or at risk of, sight loss. Support can include advice on independent living, support for families, advice on benefits and help with using smartphones and other devices. When their purpose-built premises near Eastleigh was first completed, the small area at the front was turned into an attractive garden but it had grown a little tired since then.
“Open Sight’s Head of Fundraising, Vanessa Eden, got in touch to ask if we might be able to help them out with a garden redesign,” explained Sam Foster, one of the Hambrooks Garden Designers. “She also asked if we are happy to work to deadlines: Vanessa rang early in November hoping that the garden could be finished in time for The Countess of Wessex’ visit less than two weeks later. Fortunately, we enjoy rising to a challenge!”
“Open Sight were happy to leave the design to Norman [Hambrook] and me,” Sam said. “We were keen to include a range of features in the design that would appeal to visitors, from scented plants to a handrail for safety and different textures underfoot. They also asked us to incorporate a hole somewhere in our design that would be suitable for a time capsule, to help commemorate the charity’s one hundredth anniversary.”
With the design completed, the Hambrooks Landscaping team made a start on the build itself. They had just three days, but it all came together in time, in spite of some very mixed weather.
HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex, is passionate about eradicating avoidable blindness and, amongst her other charitable work, is patron of a number of sight-related charities in the UK including Blind Veterans UK, Guide Dogs for the Blind and IAPB, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. The Countess’ eldest child, Lady Louise Windsor, was born with a rare eye condition called Esotropia, one of several types of Strabismus, the condition of eye turns or deviating eyes. Although Lady Louise’ sight is perfect now, the experience really struck home with the Countess. She was, therefore, delighted to make the special visit to Open Sight during their centenary year to celebrate all the work they do for those with sight loss.
Sam Foster was very pleased to be able to change his working clothes for something a little smarter to represent Hambrooks at the celebration event on 17th November. Sam even had the opportunity to exchange a few words with the Countess of Wessex. “I was with a number of other volunteers and Sophie came round to speak to us all individually. She thanked us for donating our time and expertise to Open Sight as, like many charities, they would struggle to exist without volunteers and donations like this.”