By Alwyn Lindley
Whitstable and Herne Bay Lions were among the many charities affected by the onset of the pandemic and resulting lockdowns. The main fundraisers of car-boot fairs, May Day celebrations, quizzes and fun days were all cancelled, so it was essential to explore other possibilities. No one imagined that one of the answers would be fundraising with flowers.
During the long cold winter months of 2020 a new project kept Lions members busy: making handcrafted wooden planters. These were made of seasoned wood, painted, lined, and offered for sale ready for planting or filled with seasonal plants, with free delivery to addresses in Whitstable and Herne Bay.
It was not known what the response would be when the planters were first advertised in local publications and online, but it was more than the Lions could have hoped for. Local people offered amazing support once more, and soon there were so many requests that a waiting list grew.
One of the local residents who fell in love with our planters was Whitstable Pearl author, Julie Wassmer, who bought four and wrote: “These planters are absolutely beautiful, fantastically well-made, painted in fashionably muted shades and bursting with perfect selections of stunning plants and flowers. I’m now buying them for friends because they also make wonderful gifts!”
With such glowing endorsements our need for plants grew, and pleas were made for plant pots to grow on seedlings and cuttings. The response was immediate, with donations of plant pots of all shapes and sizes.
This led to an unforeseen possibility: more flowers than were needed for the planters. Indeed, sufficient plants to start a plant stall. The point had also been reached where outdoor activities recommenced, so the Lions were able to take the planters and plants stall to their charity car-boot fairs on the Church Street field and the charity car parks at Whitstable Junior School on the days they were manning those.
There was only one problem: the weather. Thunderstorms ensured the closure of some events and high winds and torrential rain accompanied many of the others. Yet local people were made of sterner stuff and still turned out in support, so all was not lost. The flowers lifted everyone’s spirits and provided much-needed funds for people in need.
The majority of the orders were for planters filled with flowers. It was a pleasure to deliver them as many were ordered as gifts for friends and relatives for special occasions, and the contents changed throughout the seasons.
The Lions now have planters available for autumn/winter and they can be ordered, painted in Tulsa (pale grey) or Wild Thyme (a pale green), lined and ready for your own plants or fully planted. A donation of £25 will secure a smaller planter (about 46x46cm) and £30 for the longer rectangle (59x32cm), with a further £10 for planting if required. By raising funds this way, it is hoped that people will have something to enjoy in return for their donation. Contact Geoff Lindley on 01227 792032 to arrange collection or delivery in the Whitstable and Herne Bay areas.
Geoff, who has dedicated so much of his time to making the planters, is also the chair of the Lions’ community services and is often the first to receive requests for help. If you know anyone in need, please get in touch, just give him a call or via the Lions’ website, www.whitstablelionsclub.org.uk. As he says: “It isn’t always possible to help but we will certainly do what we can.”
Phone: Ask for Geoff Lindley on 01227 792032
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