Justin Tomlinson: Regardless of politics, council candidates worked hard for the votes
When the English poet Alfred Austin spoke of gardening he said: “With my hands in the earth, my head in the sun, my heart with nature. Maintaining a garden is nourishing not only the body, but the soul. And how right he was. For those lucky enough to have gardens, this is a busy time of year as the lawn mower is back and the spring flowers in turn fade to the bright summer colors.
For those who do not have gardens, we are fortunate to have a lot of beautiful places that we can visit to see spectacular displays of nature. Whether it’s the beautiful bloom in the Old Town Gardens, the apple trees of Stanton Park or just the wildflower meadows of North Swindon; there is no shortage of opportunities to get out and enjoy the endless wonders that the outdoors can bring.
We are also fortunate to have local housing estates for gardening and I know these are rightly an integral part of new developments. This weekend I was delighted to attend a Tadpole Farm Allotment Open Event hosted by the fantastic Tadpole Garden Village In Bloom volunteer group. I officially opened their new community greenhouse which is a brilliant addition to the housing estates and the event was an opportunity to raise funds for very worthy causes including the MND Association and of course TGV in bloom.
The event really reminded me of the importance of being in the garden especially in terms of mental health. At Swindon we recognize this, which is why we also have the beautiful Twigs Garden at Cheney Manor as well as the Every Clouds Tea Room and Garden at Stanton Park. These two fantastic charities do so much to provide a quiet outdoor space for those with mental health issues. As we step out of the dark tunnel of this pandemic, it is vital that we return to supporting these organizations, including the Olive Tree Café which is linked to Twigs.
The proactive volunteers who form the TGV in Bloom are going to embark on mental health first aid so that they can also be fully used to support good mental health and I will fully support them throughout the process. They also hope to use the plots to teach local youth how to grow flowers and plants, but also fruits and vegetables – which is made possible by the new greenhouse. It’s so important in helping the next generation see where their food comes from and hopefully encourage healthy eating. Volunteers are a real honor to their community and it’s so great to see a relatively new development come together and create such positivity and help others.
Finally, I wanted to say great luck to all the candidates who find out about the results of the local elections today. While there was a lot of disagreement on the issues, regardless of political party, they all worked hard to win every vote. I have spent 10 happy years as a counselor at SBC and know how important our counselors play in supporting residents and helping those in need.