On Friday 3 May we took delivery of a very different kind of donation, a handcrafted wooden bench for the gardens at Strode Park House.

We had been contacted by Canterbury City Council a few months ago about a fantastic project that they were running in partnership with Serco and the Fifth Trust, an Elham Valley-based charity that offers support and training opportunities to adults with learning disabilities, to create outdoor furniture out of felled trees which would have otherwise gone to land fill sites.

As Peter Buscall, the Horticultural Manager for the Fifth Trust explains: “Occasionally a tree must be felled in one of the council’s parks and gardens or it falls down or becomes diseased. With this new sustainability scheme, timber from the trees can be turned into furniture or other products, giving it a new lease of life.”

Not just a recycling project however, this scheme supports the important work that the Fifth Trust is doing with adults with learning disabilities in the local community where skilled carpenters are working with the students to carefully craft the trees into bespoke orders.

The Fifth Trust aims to provide a safe and fulfilling way of life for adults with learning disabilities through enjoyable and productive work, complementing this with a broad range of creative, horticultural and academic activities.

As General Manager of the Fifth Trust, Nikki Marley, says: “Our woodworking department is going from strength to strength. Our students really enjoy working on the tables and benches and it is great to see their confidence and self-esteem grow when they see the results of their labours being enjoyed and appreciated.”

We are extremely grateful to have been selected as one of the recipients of these beautiful benches and look forward to taking a seat and enjoying the views across the grounds once the warmer weather arrives.