Randall smiling whilst gardening
People living with physical disabilities are 3 times more likely to experience depression than those living without*

Having what you enjoy be taken away from you can make life even harder. But gardening can be a powerful tool that restores happiness.

Miserable. Low. Giving In.

These are the words that Randall used to describe his life 2 years ago.

However, life was not always like this. Randall was a Structural Engineer with a busy career: he worked on the London Underground and the Channel Tunnel and enjoyed how different every day was. But all of that came to a halt in 2018 when Randall was diagnosed with sepsis. Although he won the overall battle, Randall lost one of his legs to the life-threatening condition.

And things for Randall got worse. After the amputation, Randall spent an entire year hidden inside with no outside contact, he parted from a 27 year-long relationship and in 2020, after 6 operations, lost his other leg to circulation problems. ‘Life was boring’ says Randall.

He tells us that he could not face going up and down the high street anymore and, after seeing how happy gardening made his mother, he wanted to start gardening too. That’s when Randall came across Thrive and joined our Sow and Grow Programme in Birmingham – a 12-week course designed for over 50s who want to learn more about gardening in a social setting.

I had a great life; I enjoyed my job but [losing my legs] was really hard for me. Some people get depression. Gardening stopped depression getting to me.

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In gardening there is always something to do. Whether potting on or up, weeding or pruning, clients on Sow and Grow get completely involved and with the help of Thrive’s Social and Therapeutic Horticulture Practitioners, learn about all things gardening. Each session is tailored to clients’ needs ensuring people like Randall, who rely heavily on using a wheelchair, can take part using sitting down gardening techniques especially planned for them.

Keeping busy means a lot to Randall. His life-changing turning point was understanding that, just like before losing his legs, he could be busy again. Randall says he now goes into his garden on most days to do tasks he has learnt at Thrive. Gardening even makes Randall feel closer to his mother and attending Thrive makes him feel motivated to wake up after exhausting dialysis sessions.

I take everything that I learn from Thrive. It helps me realise that there is always an opportunity to keep busy. I am enjoying my life now. Now I can be the happy person I always wanted to be.

Adventurous. Daring. Encouraged.

That's how Randall describes his life now.

*US National Library of Medicine

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Randall gardening

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