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Older people blossom with Local Investment Fund

14 Mar 2018
A new £120,000 all ability secret garden in east Belfast has been officially opened by the widow of the local solicitor, John Watts, for whom it is named.  

Mr Watts has been recognised for the support he gave to Towell House where the garden, part funded by Belfast City Council’s Local Investment Fund and the Towell House Fundraising Team, has transformed what was previously waste ground.

Alderman Tom Haire joined Mr Watt’s widow Joan at the official opening today (Wednesday, 14 March) and said that in this instance in particular LIF lived up to its purpose to transform local lives and regenerate local areas. 

He said: “Since 2012 Belfast City Council has invested £9 million in local area based schemes across the city, and here in east Belfast, over £2.2 million has been committed to such projects.

“People over 60 already make up one-fifth of our population, and as most of our residents are living longer, healthier lives, this is forecast to increase dramatically by one-third by 2050.

“We are committed to continuing to improve our services and structure to meet the diverse needs of the ageing population. And investing in fantastic new facilities, such as the John Watt Garden, right in the heart of local communities, is a significant step towards making this happen,” added the Alderman.

“I’ve no doubt that this beautiful garden will provide pleasure for the residents of Towell House for many years to come.”

The garden is open, not just to residents of Towell House, but also to the local community and offers three separate areas for visitors to enjoy. They include:

o Woodland garden – where visitors can immerse themselves in nature in an outdoor classroom setting with tree seating, bird boxes and feeders
o Glade garden – a space for reflection and contemplation with water feature, ornamental trees and planting
o Growing garden – a social space with a potting shed, raised beds, mobile planters, seating and BBQ area

Jill Brooker, General Manager talked briefly about the all ability aspect of the garden where every age group and all abilities will come together and share time and learning. 

“This is very much a cross community effort with schools both catholic and protestant committing to using the facility with the residents. The benefits of bringing young and old together is immeasurable and everyone at Towell House Is looking forward to many happy and productive days immersed in the garden,” she said.

It has been specifically designed so there are no barriers to any user group, irrespective of ability and addresses some of the challenges associated with frailty due to older age, dementia and disability including loss of memory, independence, initiative and ability to participate in social activities. 

aldhaire and Joan