Meet Courtney who has flourished with Thrive in Gateshead


Going through life with a learning difficulty often means having to make even greater efforts to overcome challenges faced.  Courtney has special educational needs and knows about this from personal experience.

My name is Suzanne and I specialised as a Horticultural Therapist after 10 years of working within the NHS as an Occupational Therapist. 

I mainly worked in psychiatry and had already recognised what a powerful tool for therapy gardening could be when I supported people of all ages in day care and on hospital wards.

Courtney enrolled on the 'Grow & Learn’ project here at Saltwell Park in Gateshead last September, coming to Thrive one day a week with class mates from Keelman’s Way School to undertake a structured programme of a wide variety of gardening tasks. 

Theory and practice are brought together and skills are repeatedly practiced to consolidate new knowledge before assessment and exams take place at key stages.   But the learning goes far beyond pure horticultural skills to developing transferable life skills and social skills as part of the process.

Of all the elements of the project, Courtney was initially nervous at being new, at having to face assessments and take exams and of being the only girl in the group – I think it all felt a bit daunting!  

However, she soon got fully involved with all the tasks and proved herself a keen, committed student and I love to see the energy, enthusiasm and sense of pride that Courtney shows.

The level of care and the high standard of work that Courtney displays are fantastic. 

Study units on the course such as seed sowing involve so many elements including sequencing, dexterity and fine motor skills. 

A real highlight for me has been witnessing her perseverance in mastering all the different techniques then seeing her palpable sense of achievement when she passed the exam!

Joining Thrive has given Courtney a structured route through a nationally recognised horticultural programme, with the qualifications at the end to prove it.  She has also developed valuable life skills along the way and is now a fully-fledged member of the team with a fearless approach to exams!

Courtney has been very keen to learn new skills and she demonstrates exceptionally high standards in her work.  I have no doubts that she will do brilliantly in the future because of her fantastic attitude.

With your support, we are using gardening to help people to follow their dreams!

Thank you