Linda has been volunteering at our Centre for 7 years. We asked her why she chose Ferring Country Centre, and what she enjoys most about her voluntary role: "I had to take forced retirement due to health reasons. I'm part of the Girl Guides, and the horses used to come and do pony rides for our Girl Guiding sessions. So I came down here to confirm the details for that. I also used to work with a girl with Down's Syndrome. So when I came down here to visit, I thought to myself: do you know what, it's really nice here!

When I came to volunteer here and I was told that RTU was oversubscribed, so I could go on the farm or in the Garden Centre. Well, my hobby is gardening! It's great being able to work with these amazing people, they're just so happy all the time, [I enjoy] showing them how to do the things they find difficult and supporting them whilst they're learning. You've got friends for life here! You really have. I've seen these guys every Friday for the last 7 years!

The Garden Centre is run like a commercial nursery. Therefore, the plants are maintained to a really high standard. Malcolm teaches [the customers] how to do things and then the customers do most of the work themselves!

We also have a garden maintenance team, who keep the garden, the shrubs and the site in general in good nick. 

Personally, I've learnt a lot - about plants, how they grow, about planting, potting, re-potting. And now I'm studying for a professional diploma in horticulture, because being surrounded by plants and learning all about them, I've picked up so many different tips. When I come [to volunteer] at weekends, I know I can advise and help members of the public, but I'm also [studying for my diploma] just for me. I have always wanted to work in a garden centre but never had the qualifications. Now I will!"

As well as offering her services as a volunteer, Linda is one of our Riding Therapy participants: "On Mondays and Wednesdays I take part in Riding Therapy. It benefits me physically, mentally and emotionally". Linda has always been involved with horses, and here she is able to continue to enjoy her hobby. 

Linda also explained why she enjoys the environment here:

"[Ferring Country Centre] is just so peaceful. So lovely. Even with the happy voices of the customers, it is still a really calm environment. I can understand why they like coming here!"