Graham's story

Many of us would take for granted getting a qualification, a GCSE or O Level. How many of us even bother looking at the certificates we received?

But for Graham Arding gaining his first ever qualification was a major achievement. He was delighted when he passed his City and Guilds Level 1 in Work Based Horticulture.

Graham has learning difficulties and comes to Thrive once a week. We have the time, skill and patience to help people like Graham achieve things; and he certainly has.

Jann Broady, senior horticultural therapist at Thrive, said: "Graham has gained a lot of confidence over the years he has been coming to Thrive.

"He can now joke with the therapists and some of the other clients and feels comfortable talking with people, even those he doesn’t know very well.

"One of his goals was to sit in different areas of the tea room next to other people.

"Easy for many of us to do; but a challenge for Graham. Over the years he has learnt to do this; he has spread his wings.

"Graham has difficulty trying to process instructions so when he passed his Level One qualification in horticulture – it was a big day and a proud moment. 

"His face when he was presented with the certificate was an absolute picture. It’s why we do what we do.

"It did take time to get him through the award – we had to repeat things and go through the work quite a few times when he got answers wrong, but he got there in the end.

"We had to make sure he understood and remembered things.

"The beauty is that we do have the time to do that at Thrive and want to help more people like Graham."

Graham at over six foot is a tall, strong and fit young man, which serves him well when he is helping to lift bags of compost or reaching high to pick the apples from the tops of the tree in the orchard.  

Graham says the best thing about Thrive is meeting new people and growing vegetables which he sometimes takes home to his parents.

He remembers his first day well – he never felt nervous about coming here and liked it immediately. He now looks forward to coming every week.

He said: "I enjoy being outside and know that getting lots of fresh air is good for you and it helps you sleep.

"I’ve learnt a lot about flowers and plants. I like mowing the lawn and getting the lines straight as possible which I try to do at home.

"Getting my certificate was really good."

Karen and Neil Arding, Graham's mum and dad, said: "As parents, we would like to say that Thrive has been so wonderful for Graham. 

"He started coming to you at a time when everything else in his life seemed to have dried up. He had finished college and work experience wasn't working out.  

"Thrive has been a true constant in his life.  He is valued for who he is and is set realistic challenges.  He has risen to these and worked hard and, with tremendous support from you all, has achieved so much. 

"For someone else to have Graham's best interests at heart means so much to us. We can't thank you enough!"

People like Graham can often become forgotten members of society but it’s thanks Thrive’s generous supporters that we can keep going and help even more people like Graham. 

Thank you.

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