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Guildford Launches New ‘Garden of Hope’ Community Project

Published on: 30 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 2 Jul, 2021

All images by Mandy Millyard

Guildford has a new “Garden of Hope” in the grounds of St Mary’s church.

The new amenity was opened on Saturday (June 26) by Guildford Town Centre Chaplain, Noelle Coe and the Mayor of Guildford, Cllr Marsha Moseley who were joined by other town centre stakeholders at the church on Quarry Street.

Among those present were: Town Centre Chaplain, Noelle Coe and the Mayor of Guildford, Cllr Marsha Moseley, her consort Cllr Nigel Manning, Canon Robert Cotton and Cllrs Paul Spooner (chair of Guildford in Bloom) and Angela Goodwin.

The new garden has taken inspiration from the National Covid Memorial Wall on London’s South Bank, a volunteer-led mural consisting of thousands of unique, hand-painted hearts to commemorate loved ones lost to Covid-19.

Guildford’s Garden of Hope aims to provide an accessible community space, just off the High Street, where local residents can reflect on the past year and share messages of remembrance, hope and thanks as we emerge from the grips of the pandemic.

One of the messages reads, “I am thankful for family and pets.”

The project, supported by Guildford churches, Guildford in Bloom, Experience Guildford and Guildford Borough Council, will feature a number of seasonal planters that visitors are invited to leave messages in.

Messages from school children. One reads: “I hope everything will be normal again,” another, “I hope I can see my teachers more,” and another, “I hope I can go on holiday.” Click on any image to enlarge.

Messages can be written on wooden plant markers provided at the site and placed in the soil. Each of the containers has been planted up with different coloured flora to denote a theme of either remembrance (yellow), thanks (pink) or hope (blue).

The garden will be open to the public to enjoy from 11.00 am – 3.00 pm on weekdays throughout the summer.

Town chaplain Noelle Cole said the garden was “a calm spot for people to sit, and mark a moment in time”. Her daughter Charlotte sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

Commenting on the initiative, Noelle Coe, Guildford Town Centre Chaplain says: “It’s fantastic that this venture has been such a team effort. We have brought the garden together quickly so that it can be visited by everyone throughout the summer. Please do take the time to come and leave a message.”

Inside the church, the Mayor writes a reflection on a card which can be pinned to a board.

Mayor of Guildford, Cllr Marsha Moseley added: “It was an honour to attend the opening of the Garden of Hope, a project full of peace for our residents who have sadly lost friends and family during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The garden will allow visitors to come together to share messages of remembrance and thanks in the heart of our historic town centre. A big thank you to all involved in this great community project.”

Cllr Joss Bigmore, leader of GBC said: “Throughout the Coronavirus (Covid 19) outbreak we have supported our borough’s residents and businesses and protected our vulnerable communities.

“It’s been incredible to see the strength of spirit shown by everyone in the borough – and an especially big thank you to all of our volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the past 18 months.

More messages of hope

“We support our borough in remembering and paying tribute to our residents and their families affected by the pandemic. Thank you to everyone involved in creating this beautiful garden and to those from our much-loved community competition Guildford in Bloom for their green-fingered expertise.”

For more information on activities that the town has undertaken to support the community and businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, visit: http://www.experienceguildford.com.

 

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