Community Volunteer Wins Prestigious President’s Cup Accolade at South of England Show

AirS today announces its nomination of James Hamilton-Andrews for a prestigious volunteer award for his outstanding work on the East Hoathly and Halland Community Garden Plot. James will receive the award at a special ceremony with the CLA at The South of England Show on 8th June 2017.

The project started when James approached the local Parish Council to rent an allotment for growing and supplying fresh vegetables for local people, including himself, who were having to use the food bank. The aim was to provide a space for those who had mental health and physical disabilities.

James was also experiencing a range of physical disabilities, so he assessed what he was capable of doing in terms of working the garden plot and making it more accessible. By using himself as an example, he wanted to show other local people with disabilities how to get involved in horticulture and succeed in living a healthier lifestyle.

To date the project is set up as a CIC, with two volunteer directors and a range of other volunteers from the village, and grants awarded from several sources. James is studying for an MSc in Mental Health Recovery and Social Inclusion, and those using the garden include local people living with mental health issues, e.g. Bipolar, Psychosis, those recovering from alcohol and drug misuse, people with brain injury and adults and young people living with Autism.

James commented: “It has been important that the Community Garden Plot has been supported from the start by AirS with practical advice so that we have been able to form a CIC. I don’t think we would have had the impact we now have without AirS’ advice about all the legal, social and networking side of setting up a community project in a rural setting.”

Jeremy Leggett, CEO of AirS, added: “The pleasure and sense of achievement that service users gain from this project can’t be understated and it has had a very positive outcome for their mental health. James has been a huge inspiration to others and we want to celebrate his extraordinary voluntary achievement.”

“Supporting rural communities in Sussex to be vibrant and diverse places in which to live and work.”