New garden sprouts up for blind veterans

Garden users Helen McLeod and Alan Mutch  with Brian Wilson of the Scottish War Blinded. Picture: Callum Bennetts

Garden users Helen McLeod and Alan Mutch with Brian Wilson of the Scottish War Blinded. Picture: Callum Bennetts

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A SENSORY garden and summerhouse set up to help blind and partially sighted war veterans has been opened in the Lothians.

The summerhouse, at West Lothian’s Scottish War Blinded Linburn Centre, is surrounded by gardens, aromatic plants and water features to enliven their remaining senses.

Among those savouring it are Alan Mutch, 82, of Linlithgow, a former wireless mechanic and senior aircraftman with the Royal Air Force who served in the Korean War.

A decade ago his eyesight began to deteriorate, forcing him to give up driving, though he still has peripheral vision.

He said: “It’s marvellous, a relaxing place with a pond, seats and a summerhouse.

“The activities at the centre are also superb. I live on my own so coming here is great because I get to meet people.”

The summerhouse is dedicated to Alan Turnham who served in the Royal Signals Regiment in Italy and Sicily during the Second World War. A commemorative plaque has been also installed with a special Braille descriptor.

The Turnham family donated funds to support its construction and daughter Sally Turnham officially opened the summerhouse.

She said: “My father loved his garden, spending many happy hours there during the summer months, so a summerhouse seemed a fitting tribute. When asked about leaving money to a charity, he immediately nominated Scottish War Blinded. He developed a visual impairment latterly and could appreciate living with limited vision.”

Linburn Centre manager Sheila Mutch said: “Our members are now able to enjoy this very tranquil area along the Lin Burn. We are looking forward to spending time there over the summer months.” 
Ian McGregor, chief executive of Poppyscotland, said: “We are always pleased to hear about initiatives that help to improve the wellbeing of veterans and their families. We hope they enjoy the benefits over the coming months.”

john.connell@edinburghnews.com