A team of 21 National Lottery winners with a combined wealth of £146 million have been digging in to support a charity for veterans.
The winners, including a number of army and navy veterans, have got stuck to help Veterans’ Growth at its base at Rocks Farm Oast in Hastings, East Sussex, where it is preparing for its upcoming Chelsea Flower Show display.
They have been been involved in building a wheelchair-accessible path, a cold frame, potting seedlings and creating a fence to prevent neighbouring cattle from trampling on the display.
The charity, which has received £79,500 of National Lottery funding, supports veterans who suffer from mental health issues including PTSD.
It aims to reduce their stress levels, anxiety, depression and isolation by helping them to develop skills in horticulture as a hobby or even a future career.
Leading the team were two National Lottery millionaires and navy veterans, Desiree Home from Maidstone and Sharon Hall from Portsmouth assisted by army veteran Joseph Goolding.
Ms Home said, “This is a truly humbling project. To think that just a few years ago it was a piece of farmland and, through the Veterans’ Growth team’s sheer hard work and determination, it’s now a functioning and productive horticultural project is amazing.
“Hopefully our efforts today will enable more servicemen and women to benefit from Veterans’ Growth, and whether they come here to garden, socialise with like-minded people or simply enjoy the peace and seclusion, we really hope that our work today will make their time here that little bit more rewarding.”
Jason Stevens, founder of Veterans’ Growth and a veteran of 16 years in the army, said: “When I was medically discharged from the army, horticulture was my saviour and this motivated me to set up Veterans’ Growth.
“So much of what we do is making sure that the recipients of our services know someone cares, that they don’t feel isolated, that they can gain confidence, knowledge and experience in a supportive environment.
“The next veterans who come to us won’t necessarily know that a workforce worth £146m laid the wheelchair accessible path or built the cold frame they will use for potting on, but we will always remember this day and will remain touched at the winners’ hard work, good humour and that they gave up their time in this way.”
The National Lottery generates more than £30 million each week for charity projects around the country.