"Before volunteering at Phipps Bridge Community Garden I'd never eaten anything I'd planted!"

Updated: Jan 25, 2019

Peter's Story

Peter (right) with fellow Community Champion Dan

In July 2012, I was suddenly made redundant from my job at Chappell Of Bond Street music shop. I had worked there for 32 years, and at the age of 58, I really had no idea what my next move would be. On reflection, I should have immediately tried to find another job, but the whole experience of redundancy, the seemingly endless meetings, negotiation, and discussions, to no avail, had left me mentally exhausted with feelings of isolation and a lack of self-confidence. This all also coincided exactly with the start of the 2012 London Olympics, so I decided to have a month or so off, and watched virtually every event on the television.

Eventually, my partner, Janice, decided I'd been moping around the house for long enough, and suggested that I get involved with a community garden group at Christ Church. The allotment there was run by various volunteers from Colliers Wood, and I found it an enjoyable and stimulating experience which in itself continues to thrive to this day. One of the volunteers at Christ Church, Nick, found out that I had a lot of time on my hands, and subsequently invited me along to Phipps Bridge.

I have to say at this point, that up to then, I'd had little or no experience of gardening, and

very little knowledge of environmental and Green issues- 32 years in a busy job left little time for anything else, but I'd always kept fit by playing football every weekend up until the age of 54 or so, and I had found it quite difficult to find an appropriate way to maintain an exercise regime and fitness levels.

I must say that I was amazed by my first visit to Phipps Bridge - I didn't have any idea that an almost rural oasis existed in such an urban environment, right by the River Wandle. My first visit to the allotment was in September 2012, quite challenging work initially, but channelling my energy into the work, with everybody working towards a common goal was a great way to forget the negative thoughts that had assailed me over the previous few months. The work mainly consisted at that time of year of preparing the ground for the next year, I remember a lot of digging, and a harsh winter that year.

The work was incredibly fulfilli