Major donation for Elderberries scheme

The Duchess of Northumberland and one of the guests at The Elderberries Christmas party at The Alnwick Garden. Picture by Jane Coltman
The Duchess of Northumberland and one of the guests at The Elderberries Christmas party at The Alnwick Garden. Picture by Jane Coltman

A charitable programme which aims to address loneliness and isolation among older people in Northumberland – including those with dementia – has received a £40,000 donation.

The Stuart Halbert Foundation has gifted the money to the Elderberries scheme, which is run by The Alnwick Garden Trust. The funds will help the programme extend its services over the next two years.

Elderberries runs numerous initiatives, including The Blooming Well Project, which is aimed at people with dementia and provides specifically-designed therapeutic horticulture and wellbeing activities.

The Health Care Project also falls under the Elderberries umbrella. Aimed at those aged 55 and over, it offers a year-round programme of events such as the Clinic Café, which hosts different health-related speakers, and exercise classes like yoga and pilates.

Meanwhile, the Social Project features activities like a regular tea dance and the Gentlemen’s Garden.

As part of The Alnwick Garden’s mission to make Northumberland a great place to grow old, it unveiled the Stuart Halbert Drop-in Centre in 2016, which was described as the jewel in the crown of the Elderberries Programme.

The Duchess of Northumberland said: “The Alnwick Garden was built primarily to benefit the local community and nothing has changed in that vision over the past 20 years.

“The Alnwick Garden has clear social aims and objectives and it operates very differently to other gardens.

“The Garden is in better health than ever before and for the first time in six years and we are able to concentrate fully on the fund-raising to complete the garden and our vision. There is more to come”.

Gary Lydiate, chairman of the Stuart Halbert Foundation, said: “We have seen first hand what the Elderberries programme has achieved and it is heartwarming.

“The geography here is such that loneliness becomes so much more damaging to the older population and there are fewer opportunities to connect and develop relationships.”

For more details about Elderberries, call 01665 511350 or visit alnwickgarden.com