Mary Hancock 3
Mary Hancock, a volunteer of 30 years returned to Thrive to share some of her memories and what she loved most about her time with us.

Mary first joined the ranks at Thrive in 1989 when she and her husband Roy saw an advertisement in a local paper. The ad asked for help to restore a walled garden in Beech Hill. That walled garden is now part of what we call Thrive Reading, or 'Trunkwell' as the locals call it.

Mary turned up with her husband and met co-founder Chris Underhill who was grateful for the support. They joined in with others who became a group collectively known as the 'Friends of Trunkwell'.

At the time the grass was so high that you could hardly see the walls that surrounded the garden. Little did Mary know that this act of good will to restore the garden would lead to her becoming part of the Thrive community for over three decades.

Week by week we cleared the garden and had a continuous bonfire! We’d take our pack lunches and be there from 10am until 3pm.


Coming to help at Thrive became a regular source of enjoyment for Mary and her husband, Roy. Roy had retired early and this felt like a wonderful and meaningful way to spend time together. A couple of years after they joined, Roy passed away in 1991. Mary asked for donations for Thrive in memory of Roy, and used the funds to finance hard landscaping in a memorial garden dedicated to him.

Mary bought the necessary plants and undertook all of the planting herself. She used to weed the paving and saw it as her contribution to look after this beautiful little corner of the garden. Mary continued to come to Thrive every Wednesday as it was now such an enjoyable part of her weekly routine.

During a visit from Thrive patron HRH Princess Alexandra, Mary received an award for her long service to Thrive. We wanted to acknowledge Mary's contributions and show our appreciation to her for giving so much of her time to Thrive over the years.

Mary Hancock Long service award July 2019 cropped
Princess Alexandra gives Mary a long service award (10th July 2019)

Mary volunteered at Thrive until the first lockdown in 2020. She hasn't been able to since then to continue due to a medical condition. However she still keeps in touch, especially to check in on her favourite little spot, Roy’s memorial garden.

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Chris M vol and Rebecca H pulling trolley Charlie Garner 2019