Cheshire Freemasons Support Better Lives Centre in Ellesmere Port

Friday 27th July saw a delegation of Cheshire Freemasons, led by Provincial Grand Master RWBro Stephen Blank, attend the official opening of the ‘Better Lives Centre’ at the Bridge Wellness Gardens in Ellesmere Port.

The Wellness Gardens, which opened in 2015, have needed a permanent structure at its ‘heart’ for some time. To turn what was a dream into a reality required the support and donations from a number of organisations including Cheshire Freemasons who donated £25,000.00.

The charity’s main purpose is to support those with mental health and learning difficulties and to create jobs for the long-term unemployed by growing and selling fruit, vegetables, salads and herbs to the local community. Bridge Wellness Gardens provides a therapeutic environment for people suffering from a range of mental health conditions, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as those with mental and physical learning disabilities. It offers support and activities for young people struggling at school, older clients suffering loneliness and social isolation and everyone in between who just want to come and hang out on the farm. The  charity, based on Mill Lane, is a working horticulture farm which first began operating in 2015.

Francis Ball, Chairman of Bridge Community Wellness Gardens and Farm, said: “The opening of the Better Lives Centre would not have been possible without the hugely generous support of a number of major benefactors as well as smaller donations from many other people in our community. It would also not have been possible without the tireless support of our dedicated team. Since we opened in 2015, we have worked with hundreds of people of all ages, from school children to the long-term unemployed, helping them through what are often extremely difficult times. The Better Lives Centre will enable us to increase the amount of people we can support and the variety of work we can do to help them literally grow their lives.”

Stephen Blank said, “It is inspirational to see the work carried out at the Gardens. The fact it provides both a tranquil place to relax and also operates as a working farm, makes the project invaluable to the community it supports. I have seen the garden project evolve over the years and it is incredible to see how much has been achieved in such a short time. The Better Lives Centre is the icing on the cake and I know I join with many in wishing Francis and his team all the best for the future – long may they make a difference to the lives of those they help.”

Its officially open! Francis Ball, Chairman of Bridge Community Wellness Gardens and Farm, and Clair Johnson join the Cheshire delegation.

Its hard work being an APGM, WBro Simon Palfreyman and WBro Paul Massie ‘chill out’ in the gardens

Never a truer sentence – ProvGM Stephen Blank and APGMs Simon and Paul, pause for a photograph

Its almost time to unveil the sign to mark the official opening of the Wellness Centre. Pictured with Stephen is Cllr Paul Donovan, Deputy Mayor of Ellesmere Port

A plaque is presented to mark the occasion

The Gardens in their magnificent splendour