By Andy Hirst, Special Correspondent
Vicky House tragically lost a baby in pregnancy and the love, kindness and creativity she would have ploughed into him is now focused on a great community project set up in the baby’s memory.
Clem’s Garden is based in Lindley and provides flowers to foster a greater community spirit and bring more compassion into the world.
Many of its volunteers are people aged over 50 who don’t have children or grandchildren. That may be because they were unable to have children, didn’t have the opportunity, chose not to or have suffered the anguish of losing a child.
Vicky set the community interest company up after she lost her baby, Clem, in pregnancy in 2009.
“One in five people over the age of 50 don’t have kids and childlessness is something of a taboo subject that’s not talked about,” she said. “Lots of us are living with grief and would have loved to be parents. I am trying to do something positive from a sad experience by joining with my colleagues at Clem’s Garden to inspire kindness and community spirit.
“In society everything constantly reminds us about family life but for those who can’t have that for whatever reason. Clem’s Garden is a sanctuary. It’s a place where they can come and be with other people who understand what it’s like, what they’ve been through and the sadness some have to bear.
“Although a number of our team don’t have children to nurture, we can channel our care and creativity in a positive way to benefit the community.”
Clem’s Garden is based in the grounds of Briarcourt on Occupation Road in Lindley and the 30 volunteers grow flowers which they sell with the profits going to the One Community Foundation in Huddersfield which then gives grants to small charities and good causes. In 2019 they donated £3,000 which the Foundation match-funded to bring it up to £6,000.
The Team Clem members are volunteers who don’t have children and they are brilliantly supported by the Friends of Clem volunteers who are people with families.
Clem’s Garden all about being good neighbours … and that’s never been more important than now during the Covid pandemic.
Clem’s Garden teamed up with Covid community groups in Lindley, Marsh, Edgerton, Paddock and Golcar along with community projects run by Kirklees Council to give fresh flowers in posy jars to people who were isolated when they dropped off their food and medicines.
In 2020 Clem’s Garden donated more than 550 jars of flowers and some were also given as gifts to NHS staff to thank them for their hard work, dedication and courage on the coronavirus frontline.
Clem’s Garden wants this community spirit to continue. Delivering flowers is a good reason for kind-hearted people to call at the homes of isolated neighbours to show they are not alone and that their community is there for them.
So it has set up its Kindness Fund. If people donate £5 to Clem’s Garden they can fund a posy jar which will be given to someone who could just do with a reminder that their community cares.
It was inspired by Helen Evans who devoted much of her time to helping others and visited Clem’s Garden in 2019. Sadly, she was terminally ill with cancer and when she visited Clem’s Garden for one final time to say goodbye, she give it a donation.
That kickstarted the Kindness Fund and Clem’s Garden is eager for it to keep going.
Helen, 76, of Bradley, had been a volunteer on the oncology ward at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and also at the Huddersfield League of Friends Tea Bar there for many years and loved flowers.
Her daughter, Caroline Goodwin, of Longwood, said: “Mum would never have imagined that her donation would have led to this fund being set up. It’s really lovely.”
Vicky said: “Helen’s kindness touched us so deeply that we knew we wanted to honour her memory.”
To donate a jar simply go to https://www.clemsgarden.co.uk/shop/donate-a-jar
All the flowers provided by Clem’s Garden are grown naturally in the grounds of Briarcourt where a couple of large polytunnels have been set up. The volunteers even use nettles soaked in water as natural plant food as they are full of nitrogen.
Vicky, who lives in Lindley with husband, Duncan, said: “Many of the flowers you get on the high street are imported which comes with a heavy environmental price from the way they are intensively farmed and refrigerated to the pollution caused by the journey and the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers to grow them which can have an impact on wildlife.”
Clem’s Garden runs a flower stall at the entrance to Briarcourt on Occupation Road, Lindley, every Wednesday and Friday from 11am to 12.30pm with bunches of flowers costing £10 and bouquets from £20 upwards.
People can contact the charity to order gift bouquets at any time and Clem’s Garden is doing the flowers for a couple of weddings this year.
All profits go to helping small charities and good causes in Huddersfield.
Anyone wanting to become a volunteer at Clem’s Garden or order flowers can contact them on 07542 613941 or visit the website at https://www.clemsgarden.co.uk/
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.