A bit of RnR in the garden for wounded servicemen

Roddy (sitting to the right of Jennefer Tobin) and his team take a well-earned break.
Roddy (sitting to the right of Jennefer Tobin) and his team take a well-earned break.

A team of volunteers from Scotland Gas Networks (SGN) in Dumfries has transformed the garden of a coastal retreat for wounded service personnel in memory of the son of one of its members.

Southwest Scotland RnR is a charity that helps servicemen and women recover from their injuries by offering them accommodation in a retreat at Carsethorn on the shores of the Solway coast.

The beachfront garden at the retreat was badly flooded in last winter’s gales, so the SGN volunteers stepped in to restore it and make sure it is protected from the sea. They offered their help as part of the company’s Community Action Programme (CAP), in which every employee is given a day off work every year to help in their local community.

The team built fencing, put up decking and raised flowerbeds to help protect the garden from flooding. In another area, they cleared large areas of vegetation to allow the space to be turned into a memorial garden.

The idea of devoting their community day to Southwest Scotland RnR came from one member of the team, SGN Senior Operative, Roddy Pool, whose son Joseph, 26, was tragically killed in action with The Royal Regiment of Scotland in Afghanistan in September 2010.

Roddy said: “After the death of our son, my wife and I wanted to help a local charity to give us something positive to focus on. When we heard about Southwest Scotland RnR it sounded like the ideal choice.

“We spent a great day at the retreat and the sun shone throughout. We usually work in groups of two and three, so getting together as one large group was a great team-building exercise. It was very satisfying to see the difference at the end of the day.”

The community day followed a series of fundraising initiatives organised by Roddy and his wife, who together have raised over £8,000 for the charity. Roddy’s employer, SGN, has also boosted the couple’s fundraising by donating £500 from its Into Action scheme, a fund set aside to support employees in their charitable activities. SGN is the UK’s second largest gas distribution company.

Jennefer Tobin, Founder and CEO of Southwest Scotland RnR, described the team as a shining example of how people can help. She said: “This is the third year they have helped at RnR, and each time they have achieved ever greater projects. One team member even came out of retirement to come along this year because he enjoys helping so much.

“It has been a massive investment of their time and energy, and an enormous achievement on their part.”