Open Day for CLAN Orkney’s Garden Project and Drop-In Centre

The results of an incredible community effort in Orkney to create a tranquil haven for those affected by cancer are springing into life.

For almost a year a range of community groups and national organisations have rallied behind CLAN Cancer Support’s garden project at its centre in Kirkwall.

The charity was eager to transform a large patch of waste ground and has been overwhelmed by the support it has received to turn the dream to reality. The new outdoor area will be the focus of attention at an open afternoon on Saturday, June 29, from 12.30pm to 4pm, when the centre’s full range of services and facilities will be showcased.

The foundations for the ambitious garden project were laid in July last year when funding from the Big Lottery through its Community Spaces Scotland initiative enabled CLAN to appoint Dave Sneesby as its full-time gardener for a year.

Since then the garden plans have gathered momentum, with a number of volunteers joining forces. The Connect Project, working with 16 to 19-year-olds requiring assistance in the workplace, was the first to offer its services – with a dedicated group of seven youngsters and their team leaders visiting once a week in all weathers to dig, build and plant the garden.

Two Kirkwall Grammar School pupils and their learning support assistant were also valuable contributors whilst the Community Payback scheme provided vital labour, with some of those attending in that capacity demonstrating their commitment to the project by returning after completing their stipulated hours.

The corporate sector has also played its part, with Scottish and Southern Energy staff on the island taking advantage of the company’s offer of allowing one day per year to help with a local project and giving their collective support to CLAN. Already 17 SSE employee days have been given to working in the garden and more are set to follow, assisting employees from construction company Alfred Flett in digging out and laying a disabled access path as well as assisting Dave in the garden.

Karen Scott, islands co-ordinator with CLAN, said: “The land was a wilderness before we embarked on this enormous project and we have watched with pride as it has progressed through the various stages, with the design now taking shape and spring bringing the first signs of what will be a wonderful area.

“Once complete it will feature a sensory garden, flower beds, an area for encouraging lasting memories and even a vegetable plot. It is such an important part of our future in Orkney and it has been exciting to see everything coming together.

“None of this would have been possible without the amazing efforts of everyone involved, from the volunteers who have braved rain, hail and sleet to work right through the winter to the national organisations which have provided financial assistance or generously donated the time for their employees to assist. It has been a real team effort at every level and for CLAN it has been touching to have received such fantastic goodwill from so many people.”

The garden will be open 24-hours a day and seven days a week, offering a peaceful space for reflection. The ongoing project is part of a wide range of facilities and services offered by the charity from its Kirkwall centre, with volunteers interested in assisting with the upkeep of the garden welcomed by CLAN.

CLAN Cancer Support is an independent charity which provides comfort support and information, free of charge, for anyone, of any age, affected by any type of cancer. CLAN aims to support people to reduce anxiety, stress and to increase their ability to cope with the effects of a serious illness. Based in Aberdeen, the charity covers the whole of Grampian, Orkney and Shetland. CLAN has a presence in Ballater, Inverurie, Peterhead, Stonehaven, Kirkwall and Lerwick.

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