It takes a small army of over 40 volunteers between the ages of 6 and 86 to prepare to receive hundreds of visitors to the popular garden at Fanshawe Gate Hall on the edge of Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park. In a special book to raise funds for the National Garden Scheme and the Oesophageal Patients Association, award-winning garden owner Cynthia Ramsden has chronicled the lives and loves of these willing helpers at one of Derbyshire’s most popular private gardens. Published in September 2009, it is hoped that ‘Garden Tales’ will raise significant amounts for the benefiting charities.
In the book, gardeners, designers, builders, artists, volunteers and visitors talk about their own lives and what brings them back to Fanshawe Gate year after year. Jean Thorpe is a retired teacher who used gardens and nature as a way of inspiring her pupils. She volunteered to help at the Hall and found herself on the kitchen team. “There’s a special magic about Fanshawe Gate. People get so much pleasure from Cynthia’s garden, and from eating the delicious cakes. It’s a winner for everyone, the charities and the visitors.” For six-year-old Samuel Hardy, scone baking with the adults is the highlight of his ‘volunteering’ day. Although he covers the floor, the table and himself in flour, visitors still buy, and enjoy, his scones.
“Encouraging a new generation of garden volunteers is just one of the many pleasures of opening under the National Gardens Scheme”, says Cynthia Ramsden. “Whether they sell ice-creams, greet visitors or serve teas, their contribution is fantastic. If readers of my book feel inspired to turn their hand to helping at NGS Open Garden days I will be delighted.”
Joe Swift, TV gardener and President of the National Gardens Scheme, met Cynthia when she was presented with the NGS Exceptional Service Award in 2009. “I recall Cynthia speaking with affection about her volunteers and the enormous debt of gratitude she owes to them. Now she has succeeded in thanking them publicly in this beautifully illustrated book which manages to capture so much of what the NGS stands for. I’m also thrilled to read a gardening book which is as much about the people behind the scenes as it is about design and planting – a true reflection of the impact special gardens can have on us.”
Penny Snell, Chairman of the National Gardens Scheme says that the 3,700 mostly privately-owned gardens open under the NGS rely very heavily on volunteers to do so: “We are indebted to all those whose efforts raise so much for our charities. The team effort at Fanshawe Gate Hall is replicated many times over across England each spring and summer, adding to the rich colour and fabric of local community life.”
(Photo) Joe Swift with Cynthia Ramsden
Cynthia Ramsden and several of the volunteers featured in the book are available for interview.
A wide range of press/web quality photography is available to view at www.fanshawegate.com
Please acknowledge Mark Ramsden, Grafika Ltd as photographer
Press enquiries to Louise Third, Integra Communications: 0115 912 4350 / 07773 288342.
1. Garden Tales R.R.P £16.99. (cheques payable to Grafika Limited)
Order line: 01629 813300
Post: Grafika Limited,
Riverside Business Park,
Bakewell DE45 1GS
Online at www.fanshawegate.com
2. The book is available through selected bookshops and garden centres.
To discuss reader offers, call Mark Ramsden at Grafika Limited on 01629 813300.
3. About Cynthia Ramsden
Cynthia Ramsden was born in1930 in Dronfield, Derbyshire and trained in domestic science in Sheffield. She married John Ramsden in 1952 and moved to Fanshawe Gate Hall, Holmesfield in 1959 with their young family. Cynthia managed to combine her gardening and voluntary work for the WRVS with raising five children, and she turned to garden development once the children had left home.
In 1997 Cynthia was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, underwent major surgery and recovered the following year. She took up walking as part of her recuperation.
In 1999, at the age of 68, Cynthia and her WRVS colleague Jack Thompson (72) trained for the ascent of Mont Blanc and set off to climb the mountain in August that year. Heavy storms thwarted their attempt on the summit but they raised over £10,000 for cancer charities.
In 2001 Cynthia published her first book, A Garden in my Life, which raised a further £8,000 for charity.
Cynthia and John Ramsden have opened Fanshawe Gate Hall garden for charity since 1994 and under the National Gardens Scheme since 1995. In February 2009, Cynthia and John were awarded the National Gardens Scheme medal for Exceptional Service, the first garden owners to receive this award.
4. Beneficiary charities
Profits from the sale of Garden Tales will be donated to the Oesophageal Patients Association and to the principal charities associated with the NGS: Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Help the Hospices and Crossroads Care.
5. About the National Gardens Scheme
Founded in 1927, The NGS has raised more than £25 million for charity in the last 10 years. Copies of The National Gardens Scheme Yellow Book 2010 are available from all major bookshops. Further information at www.ngs.org.uk