The new garden is for 4-year-old Ruby Leigh, who suffered a severe hypoxic brain injury four years ago, leaving her with disabilities that require constant care. Ruby Leigh’s parents reached out to the Sherford team for a helping hand, hoping they could help transform their outdoor space into an accessible area that the whole family could enjoy.
The Sherford Consortium’s team of skilled contractors worked alongside students from Sherford Skills Training Scheme over the course of a week to create an incredible new space, from the ground up. Working with passion and purpose, the team has given Ruby Leigh and her family – who have lived at Sherford since 2018 – a safe, sensory-rich garden to enjoy this summer.
The garden makeover was funded, organised and delivered by those behind the scenes at Sherford: YGS Landscapes volunteered time, expertise and funds and coordinated the project. Materials were donated and supplied by Sherford Consortium partner, Taylor Wimpey; Sherford project managers, Brookbanks; Sherford groundwork team, Groundfix; and onsite-skills education provider, Plymouth City College.
The project also proved a valuable learning experience for students from Sherford Skills Training Scheme, forming part the Construction Industry Training Board Onsite Experience Programme. Mentored and managed by YGS Landscapes, the learners had a unique opportunity to gain new skills and contribute to the community. The team fully transformed the family’s once sloped and staggered garden into a disabled friendly outdoor oasis, within just five days.
Setting to work levelling the garden, the team fit an all-weather artificial lawn and expanded the family’s existing patio. Offering a more manageable and useable space, the surfaces now provide Ruby Leigh with year-round access to the garden. There is now a safe space for portable supportive seating and, on summer days, a small pool for Ruby Leigh to float weightlessly, relieving stress on her body while offering sensory and relaxing benefits.
The students also worked on their carpentry skills, creating a wooden seating area and pink painted pergola to support a special swing just for Ruby Leigh. This also offers a sensory experience, with the sound of windchimes, and views of the sky and glowing lights across the colourful pergola. The team also created a sensory shed, fitted with a blackout blind and her favourite toys, it offers a quiet sanctuary for Ruby Leigh.
To mark the completion of the garden makeover, the team even helped the family create a lasting memento. Ruby Leigh’s footprints have been set into the cement at the entrance of her new sensory shed. Each member of the team wrote their names onto pebbles, which the family will use to adorn the garden.
This community project would not have been possible without hard work and financial support. In addition to the Sherford contractors that came together to make the garden transformation possible, other local businesses also lent a hand. South West building supplies business, Bradfords, donated essential materials; MCE Electrical supplied and fitted outdoor plugs; Plymouth’s B&Q donated Ruby Leigh’s amazing sensory shed; Homebase supplied trellis; and Otter Garden Centre provided established flowering plants.
Chris, Ruby Leigh’s Dad, said: “This is truly lifechanging for us, we never thought Ruby Leigh would have such an amazing outdoor space to suit her needs and enable her to enjoy her time outdoors. We have been blown away by the generosity and kindness that we’ve been shown, and we would like to thank everyone involved. Words can’t describe how much this means to us and how much joy this will bring our family.”
Steve Warren-Brown, Managing Director of YGS Landscapes, said: “As soon as I heard about Ruby Leigh’s situation, I knew we had to step in. Having met Mum and Dad, a plan was agreed, and I’d like to thank all involved. Not only did we deliver more than expected, we also managed to give some valuable training to students from Sherford Skills Training Centre, who were brilliant at getting stuck in. There were definitely a few tears shed upon completion and we hope Ruby Leigh enjoys her new garden.”
Steven Ricketts, Sherford Skills Training Scheme Coordinator, said: “Community spirit is at the very heart of Sherford, so it’s been amazing to contribute to such a heart-warming project. It provided a great opportunity for our students to learn new skills and the project meant the world to them. It makes me exceedingly proud to see what they’ve achieved in such a short space of time, and how much heart and soul they put into the project.”