Nicole's story

Living with cerebral palsy brings every day challenges for Nicole.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition which affects movement and co-ordination.  In Nicole’s case she has muscle weakness in her right arm, memory problems and epilepsy.  Although only in her twenties, everyday activities which many of us take for granted require enormous effort and her medication sometimes leaves her feeling extremely tired.

Her family encouraged Nicole to come to Thrive at Beech Hill near Reading where she soon made friends with fellow gardener Carly.  Thrive’s horticultural therapists help match gardening tasks to Nicole’s specific needs; for example regularly using the wheelbarrow helps to exercise and strengthen the muscles in her weaker arm.

Nicole’s pride and joy at Thrive is her own plot.  This metre-square raised bed is entirely her responsibility and she has stamped her personality on it by painting the surrounding boards in pink, her favourite colour! 

With leaning posts at each corner which help with kneeling and getting up again, it is designed to give her as much independence as possible.  Alongside the flowers she loves, Nicole also grows vegetables including potatoes and carrots – she has even built herself a wigwam style support for her runner beans!

Nicole admits that at first she was a little bit nervous about coming to Thrive as she sometimes finds it difficult to make new friends, but she really enjoys working with lots of different people and the sense of achievement she gets from growing plants.

"I like choosing what to grow and then looking after it all and I’m proud of my own plot. I enjoy gardening so much now that I show my Mum everything I have learned at Thrive and we garden together at home, although my Nan knows more about flowers than both of us!"

Please can you give what you can to help more people like Nicole.

Here how your donation could help:

£20 can buy boots for a Thrive gardener
£35 can buy garden therapy starter packs including tools and seeds
£60 can pay for a therapeutic gardening session at Thrive
£100 can fund a recognised horticultural qualification