Community mission

The GoodGymers, The Willow and The Wheelbarrow

5 runners ran to help the TWIGS Community Gardens in Swindon.

  • Tracy Kingsley
  • Jason Higgs
  • Tracey C
  • Swindon runner
  • Paul Watkins
Thursday, 22nd of October 2020
Led by Tracey C

We were very excited to be visiting TWIGS for the first time - Therapeutic Work In Gardening in Swindon - a set of different gardens, a craft studio, and a woodwork shop. They work to support people who experience mental health problems, giving them the chance to regain confidence, self-esteem and to learn new skills.

Our task was to help out with some weed clearing in the Willow Field.

This place reminded us of Narnia in the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. A gate, hidden in the depths of an industrial estate in Swindon, but once you’ve stepped through the door you truly are in a different world.

Paul grabbed the wheelbarrow full of tools and off we set. Firstly, through the various themed areas in the TWIGS gardens. Too many to mention but there’s a Japanese Garden, A Path of Life Garden, a Cottage Garden, a Faith Garden and more. We spotted some outdoorsy exercise equipment in the loveliest of settings – just our thing – but no time to stop. Then through another big gate into another land – this time through woods and around the edge of a fishing lake. Then finally through another hidden gate where we stepped into the Willow Tree Field. We’d lost Jason somewhere along the way and thought he might have taken up allegiance with the White Witch but he soon reappeared. Phew!

The trees are planted in curved rows, giving it the name ‘Willow Henge’, with spaces in between that had become overgrown. Our task was to clear as much as possible so that the trees could be accessed by people cutting willow to be woven into wonderful creations as part of therapy. It seemed a little overwhelming to start with as it was clear we wouldn’t be able to cover the whole area and we couldn’t see where it started and ended! but we got stuck in and many more of the trees were safely accessible than before. We were lucky with gorgeous weather and there’s something so lovely about working in a hidden green haven. We could see nothing but willow trees and had to keep checking that we were all present and correct, especially Paul who’d found a particularly brambly bit down the other end.

Once done, we were concerned that the pile of brambles, nettles and tree branches was hard to distinguish in our photos among the trees, but no amount of floofing of the pile could help it to stand out. We’d like to reassure readers that we worked our little socks off and achieved a lot! We had a spot of bother navigating the wheelbarrow back through Narnia and we lost Jason again, this time fearing his allegiance with us meant the White Witch had tuned him to stone, but thankfully he reappeared and all five of us made our way back though the wardrobe, I mean gates.

We’d booked a table next door at Olive Tree Café, where, having built up an appetite we enjoyed an All-Day-Breakfast. The café works in partnership with TWIGS and supports people who are recovering from mental illness or at risk of suffering mental illness by providing them with positive, work-related opportunities. Eating a fry up is just our kind of good deed!

We loved this task and really hope we’ll be invited back!

Report written by Tracey C

Discuss this report

Gabrielle Newson
Gabrielle Newson
Tuesday October 27th, 2020 18:36

Great report Tracey! And great sounding place - glad you didn't lose anyone 😂

Paul Watkins
Paul Watkins
Tuesday October 27th, 2020 20:53

I echo the above also good photo presentation

Swindon runner
Swindon runner
Saturday October 31st, 2020 21:32

What a lovely mission this was and the food was great too. Well written Tracey 👍

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Led by

Tracey C

Tracey C
Trying my best to do my bit

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