Centre residents build their own sensory garden

Official opening of the new sensory garden at Huntercombe House, Peterlee.'House chairman Jason Muldowney, right, with left to right; Barbara Taylor from Mencap, administrator Janet Finley and general manager Dawn Marie Dawson
Official opening of the new sensory garden at Huntercombe House, Peterlee.'House chairman Jason Muldowney, right, with left to right; Barbara Taylor from Mencap, administrator Janet Finley and general manager Dawn Marie Dawson
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A GARDEN to spark the senses has been built by the people who will benefit from it.

Staff at Huntercombe House in Peterlee designed the space to stimulate the senses of touch, smell, sound, taste and sight to help its residents with learning disabilities.

The Peterlee Prince's Trust helped to create a new lounge for the residents of Huntercombe Lodge in the town.'Pictured left to right are Denise Curren, Samantha Steel, Sarah Bell, Daniel Playle, Liam Murphy, Toni Farlow and Angelina McLaren.

The Peterlee Prince's Trust helped to create a new lounge for the residents of Huntercombe Lodge in the town.'Pictured left to right are Denise Curren, Samantha Steel, Sarah Bell, Daniel Playle, Liam Murphy, Toni Farlow and Angelina McLaren.

Maintenance staff Alan Rudd and Joe O’Donnell spent two months building it with the help of people who use the centre.

The space includes a tactile fence, mirrors, 10-pin bowling lane, water features, bird baths, drums, herbs and a moving wall of wheels.

The project hopes to encourage residents, who live in the 21-bed centre on Wescott Road, to develop their concentration, balance, relaxation and take light exercise, as they will be involved in its upkeep.

Occupational therapist John Pope said: “We wanted to make the sensory garden personal and tailor-made to our clients, as well as being appropriate for future clients.

“In the end, we decided that the only way to do this was to build the garden ourselves.

“The garden will be an integral part of every client’s rehabilitation.”

Mencap contributed funds through its Inspire Me campaign to construct the garden.

Barbara Taylor, from the charity, was on hand to officially open the garden during an Olympic-themed fun day.

Chris McKenna, a senior lecturer in occupational therapy at the University of Teesside, also visited to offer advice.

Huntercombe House, which helps people move on to more independent living, has also added a new painting of hand prints which has been made with the help of 10 young people working with the Prince’s Trust charity.

Vincent Cara, deputy manager of the centre, said: “The creativity of our staff and clients, together with help from Mencap and The Princes Trust means we have some wonderful new additions to the service which will benefit both present and future clients.