On Saturday 30th April, An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin officially opened a new sensory in Cope Foundation. The project is a collaboration between Cope Foundation and Trigon Hotels.
Volunteers from both organisations have transformed a patch of unused ground next to Beech Hill Garden Centre, Montenotte, into an inviting space filled with different textures, scents and sounds. The colourful and calming environment is wheelchair accessible and has raised beds filled with plants to stimulate the senses. There is colourful and interesting foliage planted throughout, a water feature, wall feature and artwork.
Cope Foundation and Ability@Work is the hotel group’s charity partner for 2021 and 2022. Last year, team members from Trigon Hotels raised €11,000 for the organisation. Half of these funds will be used to fund the sensory garden. The idea for the project stems from their shared interest in growing food and gardening.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said:
“It is wonderful to see these organisations working together to make a real difference. The sensory garden is a great initiative, and an oasis of calm I know will be used by many of the people supported by Cope Foundation. The garden forms just one element of Trigon Hotels’ partnership with Cope Foundation and Ability@Work. They also provide employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities and autism which is so important.”
Kathleen Linehan is the Strategic Director of HR Trigon Hotels, she says it has been a wonderful project to be involved with:
“It is amazing to see the months of hard work on the sensory garden come to fruition. We’ve had great fun along the way too and have seen fantastic bonds and new friendships develop. I believe that every single person involved has learnt new skills and has benefited from the project. Being able to take part in such rewarding physical activity in the fresh air is an added bonus.”
Horticulture is a popular subject at Cope Foundation’s Bonnington Training Centre and 36 students from the centre have been involved in the planning and development of the garden.
A poly tunnel and two large vegetable beds form part of the garden. Potatoes, broad beans, peas, onions, cabbage and broccoli are among the veg currently being grown. Students are also growing salad leaves and seasonal organic produce for Trigon Hotels.
Cope Foundation Chief Executive, Sean Abbott says:
“The sensory garden is a fantastic addition to our organisation. I believe that by working together great things can be achieved and that’s what has happened here. The team from Trigon spotted a patch of unused ground during a walkabout of our facility and remarked that it looked perfect for a sensory garden. Volunteers from Trigon, people we support and our staff have worked tirelessly over the past few months to make that idea a reality. Not only is it a new learning environment for our students but it is a safe space where the people we support, staff and members of the public can be part of nature and away from noise and traffic.”
The sensory garden overlooks Cork city and includes artwork by street artist Kevin O’Brien. Kevin designed and painted the Hands of Hope mural on Harley Street which is an initiative by Trigon Hotels, Cope Foundation and Ability@Work. The paint for the garden was kindly sponsored by Pat McDonnell Paints. A beautiful garden feature was donated by Catt and Paddy McCarthy. Lidl also supported the project.
Thank you to everyone involved for your kindness, generosity, support and time to get the sensory garden to where it is today.
Pictured: Kathleen Linehan of Trigon Hotels; Sean Abbott, Chief Executive of Cope Foundation; An Taoiseach Micheál Martin; Cllr. Tony Fitzgerald, deputising for the Lord Mayor of Cork and students from Cope Foundation. Pic: Brian Lougheed.