How Sir Ted Heath’s garden is helping veterans in Salisbury…

THE vegetable patch of a former prime minister has been turned into a thriving community garden.

The plot, at Arundells, in Cathedral Close, Salisbury, was once the growing space of Sir Edward Heath – the former prime minister who lived at the house from 1985 until his death in 2005.

It has been reinvigorated by a group of veterans into a ‘fully-fledged and carefully-planned community garden’.

A recent illustrated talk by Rebecca Twigg, project leader and community garden designer, and colleague Emma Golby-Kirk, detailed the progress to the Royal British Legion.

Rebecca highlighted how the regular time outside, building the garden from scratch and planting it, through to the harvest, can be the start of a really stabilising effect on veterans and the first ripple of many more that help them back to civilian life.

“Having something to look after, be that a seedling or a newly planted fruit tree, is known to have the positive effect of turning that care to oneself,” she said.

She illustrated the marvellous camaraderie and drive of the veterans to get stuck in and really leave their comfort zones, an RBL spokesperson said.

“I learned so much from the veterans,” she added. “It was truly one of the most wonderful teams I have had the pleasure of working with on one of my garden projects.

“It is so well documented now that green spaces and time outside can change us profoundly, even when deep emotional and physical damage has been sustained in life and it is my hope that all the veterans keep flourishing and striving to grow, just like the plants in the garden.”

Sir Edward – known throughout his political career as Ted Heath – was leader of the Conservative Party from 1965 to 1975, and prime minister from 1970 to 1974.

Born in 1916, he served as an officer in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War.

After losing the leadership to Margaret Thatcher in 1975, he returned to the backbenches, where he served until 2001.

Having never married, Sir Edward left Arundells, and its contents, to the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, which would conserve the house as a museum to his career.

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