Sponsorship appeal from Margate volunteers turning ‘abandoned dark places into vibrant community gardens’

Rory and volunteers at work Photo Steven Collis

An initiative in Margate to “turn abandoned dark places into vibrant community gardens” is looking for sponsors to help with their work.

The Wilderness to Wonderland project has grown over the last three years from humble beginnings, when Rory Waitt noticed that his area of Westbrook needed a bit of a tidy up.

Rory and wife Joanne then decided the promenade needed some TLC and a number of volunteers came onboard to transform dank areas into blooming beautiful areas of flowers.

Three years on and  Wilderness to Wonderland volunteers now look after  Margate Station Approaches, the TS Eliot Shelter Gardens, Westbrook High Street and Westbrook Promenade.

At the area around Margate station, bulbs planted in the winter are now blooming with daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. The garden areas will be seen by some one million visitors per year as they make their way from the station to the seafront.

Rory and volunteers dig in to make Margate beautiful Photo Steven Collis

Rory said: “It is good for everybody. Me and the volunteers get satisfaction from it, the sponsors can join the celebration, people stop and take photos – it has a real village green feel rather than a dangerous spot full of needles.

“It started off as a gardening project but has now become a big hub of people with boundless enthusiasm.

“We have good local sponsors but need more. We know money is hard but there is money in Margate from tourism. People come to Margate because it is lovely but if we do not look after it then that loveliness will blow away.”

The project needs to raise £20,000 per year to maintain eight community garden areas and fund around 32 events annually.

Currently there is sponsorship from Your Move, BikeShed, SEK, and through Crowdfunding. A year of support from Southern Water has now come to an end.

Juliette Malagodi Director at Your Move, said:  “Cheering up some of the unloved corners of our town, and bringing people together in such a positive way is something we are delighted to support through our sponsorship”

Director Patrick McDonnell added: “We really admire this type of community based project where the hard work of the volunteers is of benefit to everyone, locals and visitors alike.”

Wilderness to Wonderland promotes diversity, inclusion and positive mental health by building communities who look after the gardens for residents and visitors to enjoy. Members carry out regular work parties in Westbrook at 3pm on Fridays.

The group is also due to start a project in April with five schools – Reculver Primary, Ramsgate Arts Primary, Stone Bay school, St Anthony’s and Holy Trinity and St Johns.

Rory, a retired teacher, said: “We will buy them plants and show them what to do with them to plant them and nurture them so they are growing something in their community.

“We also look after the gardens for Age UK through four or five dedicated volunteers. It is about empowering communities and civic pride.”

Photo Carl Hudson

Wilderness to Wonderland has been awarded commendations by The Civic Society and Margate Mayor Rob Yates as well as being part of a ‘causes that matter’ celebration with the High Sherriff of Kent.

They hope that with further sponsorship they can maintain their current work and expand into further areas.

Anyone interested in supporting or joining the group can contact Rory by email: [email protected]

Or find them on  Facebook and Instagram Wildernesstowonderland

Wilderness to Wonderland: The Margate gardening project revitalising community spirit

5 Comments

  1. I remember the days when Thanet District Council used to do this as part of the Council Tax we pay!

  2. Without volunteers this Country would come to a complete stop, why have we allowed for this to happen? Would the French put up with this, I hear a very loud ?

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