Garden Organic's Eric Barnes wins Volunteer of the Year award
Garden Organic is delighted to announce that volunteer, Eric Barnes, has been crowned the Great British Growing Awards 'Volunteer of the Year'.
Eric Barnes has worked at Ryton Organic Gardens since the first day it opened in 1986, initially as a head guide and since then as groundsman. Eric has also been involved in the horticultural therapy projects on site for many years. He worked and then volunteered for the charity Thrive that originally managed Ryton's horticultural therapy garden, which was opened in 1990.
Garden Organic launched its own horticultural therapy project, Growth, in 2004, and Eric has been a volunteer from the beginning. He currently spends every Thursday on the project.
Marc Hammond, Gardener at Ryton Organic Gardens, nominated Eric for the award for his hard work and dedication.
Marc says: "Eric has been volunteering at Garden Organic for over 20 years and despite health issues, give up his time to help run our horticultural therapy programme, Growth. He is a real friend and inspiration to the students and recently on release from a week's stay in hospital, he visited Garden Organic to see the students before he returned home!"
James Wong, was one of the judges of the Volunteer of the Year Awards, which are organised by Grow Your Own Magazine.
James says: "It was both the length of service and commitment in the face of adversity that made the winner stand out. What a hero!"
Eric will be presented with his award at a presentation at the Edible Garden Show at Alexandra Palace, London on Friday 20th March and also features in the latest edition of Grow Your Own magazine.
Eric says: "It is an honour to be selected for this award, but I still can't comprehend that there isn't anyone else more worthy of it.
"I've been involved in horticultural therapy for a long time now and I still get a buzz out of it. All of the people in our group have been coming here for years, so you get to know them really well. We're just a team. I get as much out of it as they do - gardening is therapeutic for all of us."
There is more good info about Growth on our website.