Marathon effort for Vista’s ‘secret garden’

A team of five staff from the blind and partially sighted charity Vista’s Kathleen Rutland Home in Leicester Forest East are running a half marathon to raise money so their elderly residents can enjoy a woodland walk in their garden.

In his mid 60s, Paul Sykes, the manager of the home in Leicester Forest East, is taking part in his first half marathon, alongside colleagues Demi Ball, Lorna Lynch, Georgia Vincent and Hannah Poyser.

The five have already attracted sponsorship of more than £2,000 for taking part in the Leicester Marathon on October 26 and are hoping to raise even more to buy an arbour and the materials to repair a pathway in the woodland area so it can be safely used by the 42 elderly residents.

Then in a challenge organised by Leicestershire Cares, a team of volunteers from commercial vehicle dealer Ford & Slater are coming on November 12 to work on the garden.

The garden at Vista’s Kathleen Rutland Home had been inaccessible for years, until this spring when volunteers from Leicestershire and Rutland ProHelp hacked their way into its overgrown greenery in one area which is now enjoyed by the residents. The Ford & Slater challenge will open up more of the garden.

Paul Sykes said: “My colleagues invited me to join the run with them. I’m in my mid sixties but, back in May, I said yes. I’ve never run any distance before but I’ve been training and have lost three and a half stone, so it’s already had lots of benefits for me.

“With the sponsorship we’re raising our residents will really benefit. The path hasn’t been accessible for about ten years because tree roots have made it very uneven. It will be great when it’s fixed and there’s somewhere for them to sit and we also want to put big wind chimes in the trees.”

In the follow up operation, Ford & Slater’s volunteers will be clearing pathways, preparing the ground for the arbour and making three raised beds ready for spring planting.

Also taking part in the Leicester marathon, running the full distance, are Vista chief executive Paul Bott and four more staff from the charity which helps more than 6,000 children and adults with sight loss. The money they raise is going to help Vista’s work across Leicestershire and Rutland.

Anyone keen to sponsor the Paul and his colleagues can do so at: www.justgiving.com/paul-sykes5/

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