THE Canal & River Trust, the charity that looks after 2,000 miles of historic waterways across England and Wales, has begun work on a new dementia sensory garden at Naburn Lock on the outskirts of York with the help of Gurkha soldiers from nearby Imphal Barracks.

Soldiers from 246 Gurkha Signal Squadron undertook training in a more unusual environment by helping the Trust dig and clear a site to create the new garden, which will be part of a wider site makeover, including a nature trail, to sensitively transform and enhance the natural surroundings along the picturesque rural stretch of the River Ouse.

Tom Wright, the Trust’s development & engagement manager who secured the funding for the project and arranged the activities, said: “Thank you to the Army for helping us. The Gurkha soldiers’ enthusiasm and energy has been fantastic and we’ve made great steps towards a new dementia sensory garden.

“We’ll be inviting local people who suffer from dementia to join us in the gardening and planting process. I hope they will enjoy the garden and spend time here with friends and family.”

Major Paul Whillis, officer commanding 246 Gurkha Signal Squadron, who was participating in the activities, said: “We’ve been helping with the physically tough stage of creating this new community garden, cutting back vegetation and moving masonry from a former mill on the site.

“It’s been great to meet the Canal & River Trust team, find out about what they do and help to make a lasting difference to the local community. It’s a wonderful setting at Naburn Lock and we look forward to seeing the finished site in September.”

For more information about the Canal & River Trust, visit 

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