Channel 5 backs Clitheroe horticultural therapist’s veterans’ project

dig in: Horticultural therapist Donna Rowe-Green and key team member Alfie, her West Highland terrier.

dig in: Horticultural therapist Donna Rowe-Green and key team member Alfie, her West Highland terrier.

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A project set up by a Ribble Valley horticultural therapist to improve the lives of armed forces veterans experiencing mental health problems will open its doors on Monday.

And thanks to a TV company from Channel 5, Dig In North West has been given a fantastic start. The crew recruited a team of veterans to transform a run down walled garden area in the park in just five days for a programme to be screened in the spring.

Dig In, at Ashton Park, Preston, is the brainchild of Donna Rowe-Green (44) and less than a year after she had the initial idea for the project she will be welcoming her first gardeners.

She said: “I sent out 10 emails to my friends, explaining what I wanted to do and got 60 back from different organisations. People decided it for me – I just needed to sort the where, when and how.”

Donna is married to Nigel (43), a veteran of the Bosnian conflict. She said: “I have been a horticultural therapist for 12 years working with a variety of groups, but about two years ago I was made redundant.

“I went self-employed and while carrying out some research came up with the idea of the veterans’ project. I approached Preston council and was offered a rundown piece of land at Ashton Park. Then the TV company came along and they saved me six months of work, enabling me to look to open in April.”

Donna, from Grimsargh, was helped by Enterprising People in Ribble Valley, a group which has supported the idea from its inception.

Donna has since been successful in gaining grants from the Green Partnership Award, Lancashire County Council and local donations. .

Veterans with mental health issues from all over Lancashire will be able to access the project.

She said: “The first 12 months are now secure as a pilot project and I will be evaluating our successes in September and making further bids to ensure Dig In continues.”

l For more information on the project, call 01200 323992.