Open garden helps funds to grow

Val and Ian Hepworth at their home in Skeeby which opened to the public to raise money for St Teresa’s Hospice

Hospice funds are beginning to grow again thanks to the generosity of supporters who opened their historic gardens to the public.

Val and Ian Hepworth opened the garden gates of their glorious 17th century Manor House, at Skeeby, near Richmond, for four days to help St Teresa’s Hospice.

Val said: “Despite two rather wet days, we had a steady flow of visitors who all seemed to have a very good time. It is lovely to share our garden with others for such a good cause and we certainly enjoyed it.”

The event raised a total of £1,825 from entry fees, donations, a plant stall and refreshments as around 145 visitors enjoyed their tour.

Val and Ian moved to the historic house 40 years ago and ever since have been planting and developing the gardens, originally laid out in the quarry by the influential Pease family, who were notable Quakers, bankers and founders of the railways.

Visitors enjoyed the 1½ acre gardens, sheltered by walls and hedges, featuring courtyard, herbaceous and mixed borders, soft fruit and the quarry garden, known as The Dell. Their tour took in a pond, shrubs, bulbs and perennials, ‘The Glade’, with some newly planted trees and shrubs, and ‘The Valley’, which was originally the sunken track leading from the quarry. They also visited a terraced shrub rose garden, ornamental trees and a conservatory/greenhouse.

Val said: “COVID has really hit charities like St Teresa’s Hospice so we were delighted to do what we could to help.”

St Teresa’s Hospice needs to raise £3m a year to provide free in-patient and community care for people living with life-limiting illnesses and their families in Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire.

St Teresa’s chief executive Jane Bradshaw added: “This event was an incredible opportunity to enjoy one of the most beautiful and historic private gardens in the region. I’m thrilled so many people attended to enjoy themselves and raise much-needed funds for our hospice, which is emerging from one of the most difficult periods in its history.”