Memorial Garden To Honour Iraq Hero

From todays MoD Oracle

A memorial garden lovingly created in honour of her son by the mother of Wigan soldier Jamie Hancock, who was killed in action while serving in Iraq last year, will be the venue of a special garden party to raise money for the Army Benevolent Fund.

Lynda Ledwith has spent many months carefully planting and nurturing the garden at the back of her cottage home in Glossop, Derbyshire. Now she has decided to host a garden party, with 120 people expected to attend, which will raise money for the Army Benevolent Fund, a charity that provides practical and financial help to soldiers, former soldiers and their families in times of need;
"Jamie loved the garden here and the river that runs through it. He visited the cottage just before leaving for his tour of Iraq," explained Lynda.

"I wanted to create a special place in the garden, a place that would remind me of how brave Jamie was, somewhere that I could see as Jamie having come home. I hope others will visit Jamie's garden and use it as a place in which to remember Jamie."

The garden has been planted with different aspects of Jamie's life in mind. Plants range from Blue Angels, "to watch over Jamie", and Dahlia Romeos, "because Jamie was a Romeo, he liked the girls!". There are also climbing red roses, the red rose being a symbol of Jamie's regiment, the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment. The plants are all red, white or blue, the colours of the Union Flag, which was draped over Jamie's coffin at his funeral service. Peace lilies symbolise Lynda's hope for peace.

The garden's main features include a central dolphin fountain sculpture. Lynda explains that this reminds her of the fun Jamie had when he went swimming with the dolphins in America when he was 11. The colours of the pots in the garden are predominantly black, "Jamie liked his black T-shirts". A stone cat, "Jamie loved cats", sits on a border wall. Among the plants is a plaque carrying these words:

"This garden is dedicated to Jamie Hancock. My son. My hero. The beauty of the garden reminds me of you; the tallness of the topiary reminds me of you; the flowers show their personality just like you; and I still see you swimming with the dolphins... Love you always, Mum x"

Lynda said:

"Jamie will always be in my heart and I know he is in the hearts of everyone who met him. He is missed so much by many people - I know that Jamie had so many friends. Creating this garden has helped me deal with the heartache and I now want it to help others if it can.

"We are having an invite-only garden party early next month to raise money for the Army Benevolent Fund. In the future, I hope that other organisations may want to come and see it, and make a donation to the ABF. What I want to get across to people is that I think our British soldiers are the best in the world and they do a great job wherever they are in the world. They need our support. We should support our soldiers who are in Iraq and particularly those who come back with injuries, sometimes quite horrific injuries. The Army Benevolent Fund helps these Servicemen and women when they need that help the most."

The garden party will include a buffet cooked by Army chefs, games for the children, an Elvis impersonator and a raffle. Lynda is keen to thank all the organisations and individuals who have lent their support, including Cheshire Building Society, Jim and Dave (the gardeners), her husband Lee, son Joe, and all her ex-work colleagues and friends who have kindly donated plants for the garden.

Lieutenant Colonel Philip Aindow, North West Regional Director of the Army Benevolent Fund, said:

"The work that Lynda has put into creating Jamie's garden and her support to the Army Benevolent Fund is truly inspirational. The ABF relies on the support of the community. The ABF spends about £250,000 every year in the North West alone assisting soldiers, former soldiers and their families - a considerable amount of which is raised by kind donations from the public. Soldiers appreciate that greatly."

RIP to James and all of our fallen comrades in all conflicts.
I hope she has planning permission before some knobjocky council scumbag orders the garden to be bulldozed in to a slagheap.

Glad that something posetive can come out of her loss and I'm sure we all wish her success with the party and many more like them.

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