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// Real Residents

Wales in Bloom: FirstPort retirement development gets gold with ecological theme

An independent-living retirement development in Monmouth, Wales, has won a gold award in the Healthcare and Social Care Establishments category for Wales in Bloom.

Wales in Bloom is a national competition which celebrates outdoor spaces that promote environmental responsibility and community involvement.

As well as being the category winner, FirstPort’s Homeforge House retirement development also received a gold award for receiving high marks in every category of the competition.

This isn’t the first win for the development, which achieved silver in 2017, silver-gilt in 2018 and gold in 2019.

But the competition hasn’t been held for the past two years due to the pandemic. It’s given both residents and the FirstPort-appointed landscaper – TR33 – time to make sure the garden has the winning touch.

For resident Malcolm Nichols, the garden is his escape, and it’s where he spends many hours making it look its best.

Malcolm attended the awards ceremony in September where he was also awarded with an individual Community Champion gold award for his hard work in maintaining the gardens. He explained:

“We are so overwhelmed and proud to have done so well. Despite the difficult climate and conditions this year, good floral displays were maintained to lift the hearts of the residents.”

In recent years there have been several changes made to make sure the garden area is as environmentally friendly as possible. There are no chemicals used on the plants, a compost bin was installed, along with insect houses and dwarf fig trees which residents can pick and eat from.

In addition, there is a vegetable patch and, once the vegetables are ready, they can then be shared among residents.

FirstPort Development Manager Helen Carter, who is also a passionate gardener, said:

The garden space is so important to residents and, especially during the pandemic, it was invaluable.

“It really is a sanctuary and it helped residents so much. We’ve worked hard over the past few years to constantly improve it. I think it gives us a great amount of pride in the place and it’s nice to be recognised by the wider community.”