Fundraising campaign launched to create a sensory garden for children with disabilities in Sandwell and honour the life of project champion Gary Simpson

A community initiative supporting children with disabilities and their families in Sandwell has unveiled plans to transform the garden at their respite house into a sensory  garden, despite earlier plans being set back by a tragedy.

Qualified Landscape gardener Gary Simpson, who worked as a manager for Biffa had pledged to lead a project to create the garden in Oldbury. But with work due to start, Gary was involved in a road accident while riding his motorbike in nearby Stourbridge.

Gary never recovered from his injuries, but 4 Community Trust is determined to move forward with their project and want it to become a legacy honouring the life of their former supporter and are now launching a fundraising drive.

They hope to raise £20,000 to create the sensory garden, fund equipment for use by children and families and create a garden room clubhouse.

4 Community Trust provides services to families in Sandwell Borough. Offering childcare and respite for families who are struggling to support children with learning difficulties.

Once the project is complete, 4 Community Trust plan to offer it for use to many parents who need a short break for respite care for their child with Special Needs.

Gary got to know 4 Community  Trust through his son who has autism and through the parents project Break Away 4 U. The project launched through lockdown to support parents through a social zoom meeting.

Jo Haydon, from the Community Interest Company, said: “Gary was a great champion for our work. The garden at Dorothy House is overgrown and Gary shared our dream of transforming it into a community garden, with play equipment and a garden building which would be used as a sensory room.

“Gary worked as a manager at Biffa and was a qualified Landscape gardener and he was going to take on the project at his own expense, gaining support from Biffa and getting together fellow colleagues to help him with the work.

“We were deeply upset by Gary’s death, and we’re determined to press forward and complete the project in Gary’s honour.

“We are extremely grateful to Julie, Gary’s partner, who has given us her full support and is joining us in raising funds to carry-out the work.”

4 Community Trust has now launched a Crowdfunder campaign and is looking to get support from residents and local businesses in Sandwell and beyond.

Julie Sadler said:  “Gary was my partner and we’d been together for many years. He was passionate about 4 Community Trust and the way it had helped us over recent years.  Jo and her team have been a huge source of support to our family.

“Gary was very keen to give back by carrying out the work. I now want to see it completed as it is much needed by parents and children across the borough. It will also serve as a permanent tribute to Gary, so something very good would come out of his death.”

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For media enquiries please contact Nigel Howle by telephone on 0776 2043436 or by email at [email protected].