Staff Stories – Sally's story

Sally is a 56-year-old who had very troubled teenage years and was in care. She went to London and started doing accounts then had her first child. Her second child had a hole in his heart, so she spent a long time caring for him. She did cleaning jobs etc. around her children and that’s when she started gardening. Then she spent time looking after her father who was ill with cancer for 11 years. He was a larger-than-life character so when he passed away it really rocked her.

“After looking after someone and they are no longer here, you’ve got that sense of not being grounded anymore. Who am I? I’m not a Carer anymore.” Then just as I had just started to recover from that, lo and behold my mother got an aggressive form of Leukemia. Shortly after that I decided on social gardening. In the beginning I was self-taught. I did a day course learning to growing herbs. Then I did my RHS Horticultural society qualifications at Shuttleworth college

I was doing a horticultural project in 2018 at Stockwood Discovery Centre with the Drug and Alcohol Service, when the project abruptly came to an end. Around that time, I saw in the local newspaper that the Roots polytunnel had been vandalized. I knew someone at Penrose Synergy so I called and told them, ‘since your polytunnel has been vandalized, how would you like to take over a 200ft green House?’  Within two days, Anthony Miller and Sam came up and I was TUPE’d over. That was the beginning of my journey with Roots.

I’ve loved working here! It’s been lovely. I spent a long time looking after my parents and doing commercial gardening. But when my father died, I decided to do a different type of work in the charity sector and have never looked back.

The money from the lottery will make a massive difference to us. We want to spread the word and repeat what we’re doing. I have been running some sessions at the Recovery College in Bedford and through that met someone from the Bedford Partner’s Housing Association who have a neglected garden. So that will help us to go forth and flourish and do more in the community. When I heard the news about the Lottery win, I had a little dance.

I don’t know what’s next for Sally. But on my bucket list is more travel with a tour to Africa at the top of my list.”

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