22nd September 2021
HRH The Duke of Gloucester visits Bloomin’ Arts,in Lingfield, Godstone Flower Farm and Le Personne Almshouses in Caterham on the Hill.
On Wednesday 22nd September, the Lord-Lieutenant welcomed His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester, to three venues in Surrey. Starting in Lingfield, at Bloomin’ Arts His Royal Highness met Hayley Bull, the General Manager and the Lead Artists, and was given a tour of their building.
Bloomin’ Arts works to create opportunities for people with learning disabilities, aged 18 plus, to enjoy, develop skills, perform, and work in the arts. They offer just over 100 places on their current creative courses, which sees them support over 60 participants.
They do this through, comprehensive professional Arts courses, their Bloomin’ Arts Theatre Company, and their Arts Create IT Group, who this year made a virtual exhibition and in person exhibition to reach more people, then ever before.
At the end of the visit, the Duke unveiled a plaque of his visit.
His Royal Highness then moved on to Flower Farm in Godstone and met with Patrick Deeley, owner and Farmer of Godstone Flower Farm. Farmer Patrick’s parents, June and Peter Deeley moved to the Flower Farm in 1974, when Patrick and this three brothers were young boys.
Twenty years ago, Farmer Patrick finally fulfilled the dream that he and his father had – to create a Farm Shop that sold fresh produce from the farm. The farm shop evolved over the years, and 90% of the fresh produce is made on site and from home grown or locally sourced ingredients. Ten years ago, a tearoom was added to make the Flower Farm a destination of choice, giving people something more to do when they came to pick fruit or do their weekly shop. Six years ago, they welcomed The Godstone Brewers on site, and have now expanded their small brewing stable into a full microbrewery and tap room where the public can come and enjoy a pint with the brewers drinking their freshly brewed beer.
Godstone Flower Farm also hosts Festivals and Events and in 2018, they held their first Oktoberfest.
The last visit of the day was to Le Personne Homes Almshouses where His Royal Highness met with the Chief Executive and Chairman of the Almshouse Association and was given a tour of the homes and met with the residents and staff.
The Charity opened the Le Personne Homes in 1952 with 22 purpose built self-contained flats for local poor women. The number was expanded to 43 by the construction of studio flats in the 1970s. These were converted to one bedroom flats in 2010.
In 2017, a programme to modernise the original 22 + 3 flats was started with the help of a grant from Homes England and a loan from the Almshouse Association. Despite the pandemic, this work was successfully completed by the end of 2020. When completed the total refurbishment costs for all of the flats was in excess of £3M. These costs along with all ancillary maintenance is responsibly managed by the Board.
The dedicated husband and wife team, who look after the elderly women and their homes on a day to day basis, have managed to keep the Le Personne Homes “Covid-19 free”.
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