A REFURBISHED horticultural-therapy garden for Armed Forces veterans in Ayrshire, run by charity Gardening Leave, has been officially opened by Victoria Cross recipient Sgt Johnson Beharry.

The project at Auchincruive, near Ayr, has been transformed to make it easier for veterans to use and to support their mental health recovery.

The garden now boasts raised wooden vegetable, herb and flower beds, all thanks to ISS Facility Services Landscaping who built and partly funded the work.

Sgt Beharry joined veterans, volunteers and staff, cadets, ISS staff and Ayrshire Provosts to officially rededicate the project.

The decorated veteran first officially opened Gardening Leave at Ayr when the charity was launched in 2007. He was awarded the distinguished Victoria Cross for twice saving members of his unit from ambushes in Al-Amarah, Iraq, in 2004.

Heather Budge-Reid, Gardening Leave’s chief executive, said: “We are very grateful that Sgt. Beharry, a man of such immense courage, joined us in celebrating our refurbished garden for veterans, who in facing their mental health challenges also show immense courage.”

The new raised beds are an important feature for the veterans who attend Gardening Leave, who may be suffering flash backs, hyper-vigilance and physical insecurity. The best, most open conversations can be had while people work side-by-side.

Phil Jones, Managing Director of ISS Landscaping, said: “ISS is fully committed to the Armed Forces community both with our collaboration with Gardening Leave and other sustainable community work we undertake with our defence clients such as CarillionAmey.

“The response of our own staff at Auchincruive has been overwhelming, with our employees giving their time voluntarily.”

To find out more about Gardening Leave, visit www.gardeningleave.org

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