Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Celebrates Africa at Broadway Gardens

2nd September, 2011

Residents, staff and volunteers at Broadway Gardens in Wolverhampton were visited by former England cricketer Baroness Rachael Heyhoe-Flint to open their garden's new African hut.

Group photo

Baroness Heyhoe-Flint was joined by a drummer from Zimbabwe, a storyteller, a singer and a family of traditional musicians to celebrate the day.

After the ribbon was cut, over 60 residents, volunteers, families and friends enjoyed cocktails while listening to music and dancing.

Activities Co-ordinator Lorraine Evans said that the scheme is going to spend more time investigating African culture. "The project isn't finished yet and later in the year we are liaising with volunteers from Wolverhampton University Art College who are coming to paint two African murals for us. Next year we are focusing on an African theme for our garden and using only plants that have their base in Africa."

Many of the guests came to the party in costume, wearing animal prints and traditional African jewellery and headdresses. Volunteer Margaret Brittain, who has been helping at Broadway Gardens for 11 years, explained that she had made her headband by cutting a strip of fabric from her skirt.

"I really like it here," she said. "I come in one day a week, unless something like this is happening. Some of the residents are younger than me now, but I keep coming back!"

Singer Debbie Miles entertained the group in the late afternoon and encouraged almost all of the group to dance, including the staff. The music ranged from traditional African songs to well-known tunes by Elvis, which had social club support worker Maria Parkes up and jiving!

Several residents had invited their families along, including Jean Nicholls, who was joined by her ten-week-old great-grandson and four-year-old great-granddaughter Charlie, who enjoyed the dancing.

Scheme Manager Jenny Jackson said that the day was nothing too unusual for Broadway Gardens. "We like to do things that are a little bit different here and keep pushing the boundaries."

Baroness Heyhoe-Flint praised the staff at Broadway Gardens: "I really appreciate what Broadway Gardens do for their residents, because in the interaction between them and the African performers you can see the residents' whole faces coming alive."

Pictures, clockwise from top:

Staff and residents at Broadway Gardens pose by the new hut.

The new African hut.

Resident Jean Nicholls, who was joined by her great-grandchildren.

Staff and residents dancing.

Baroness Rachael Heyhoe-Flint practises her drumming skills.

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For further information, please contact:

Lucy Henson, PR officer
0789 105 3062