Vandals target ‘urban’ Haywards Heath garden

Nigel Allyson-Ryan at Grove Garden Trust community garden, where the gate has been vandalised. Pic Steve Robards SUS-141112-124854001
Nigel Allyson-Ryan at Grove Garden Trust community garden, where the gate has been vandalised. Pic Steve Robards SUS-141112-124854001

A garden for the elderly has been ‘violated by vandals’ who kicked the gate off its hinges.

Grove Garden, an ‘urban retreat’ in Haywards Heath was left to the community by Joyce Grove, a drama teacher and philanthropist.

Nigel Allyson-Ryan, who is the principal trustee of the garden has been patrolling the site on a daily basis until the gate can be replaced.

“It is very disheartening as I have spent the last 18 months trying to raise funds to turn the garden into an oasis of art and culture for children, young people, the elderly and the community at large.

“But I’ve just had news that because Joyce specifically wanted the garden to be for the elderly, I can’t allow children in, even accompanied, as planned.

“Although this vandalism is going to set us back as there are hardly any funds in the charity we now need to pay for a new gate,” he added.

“Anti-social behaviour amongst the youth in our communities is on the rise.

“That is one of the reasons that I am so passionate about the arts and providing our children and young people with interesting, creative and engaging things to do and experience.

“I’m sure that whoever did this was just bored and hopefully regrets having done it.

“So we need to accelerate our plan to acquire some funding and get Grove Garden up and running as soon as we can.”

Mr Allyson-Ryan, a former art gallery owner and fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts was recently acknowledged for bringing art to commuters around the area including artwork decorating rooms at Haywards Heath station.

The Grove Garden Trust is looking for volunteers and support, financial or in kind, to help clear the garden and re-landscape, in time for the spring.

By this time Mr Allyson-Ryan hopes to have secured further funding to make the space a ‘haven’ for adults to interact and get involved in community, arts, health and cultural activities.