‘Our best Christmas ever’ - How Harrogate has helped Horticap after a difficult 2019

A much-loved charity has enjoyed the best Christmas in its 35-year history, thanks to the overwhelming support of the Harrogate community.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 7:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 7:09 pm
Horticap are celebrating a fantastic Christmas season. Pictured is Victoria Taylor with a wreath she made.

Horticap had a challenging start to 2019, with a series of road closures, diversions and other access issues to contend with that saw severe losses of earnings.

During a fortnight of roadworks in March, Horticap’s shop and cafe on Otley Road took just £3 in one day, and lost between £5,000 and £6,000.

Then, in September, the UCI Road World Championships resulted in an estimated loss of £3,000.

But thanks to the generosity of Harrogate Advertiser readers who have all rallied together to help reverse the charity’s fortunes, Horticap has had a record festive period - selling out of their stunning real Christmas trees.

Operations manager Phil Airey, said: “This Christmas has been the most successful in all our 35 years. As any charity will know, it only takes a slight knock of income to make things difficult, like the UCI event, roadworks, and road closures. But the people of Harrogate and wider areas have been coming to support us in their hundreds, it’s just been overwhelming.”

Horticap has become a real community hub over the last 35 years, providing life-changing training in horticulture for adults with learning disabilities, while creating a paradise for visitors to enjoy in the process.

Having so many visitors flock to the gardens to admire their work gives a great boost to the hard-working and dedicated students. Phil said: “Our students love the comments from customers, and the support they give.

“They get a real pride in their job. So on behalf of all our students, volunteers and staff, we would like to say thank you for your support. I would also like to thank the Harrogate Advertiser for their support and being a proper local paper. From all of us at Horticap, we would like to say a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.”

To say thank you and give back to the Harrogate community at Christmas time, Horticap gave away a 10ft tree to the team at Harrogate Fire Station, who hosted a free Christmas Day lunch for anyone who would otherwise be on their own.

Praising the White Watch firefighters for putting on such a thoughtful occasion for the wider community, Phil added: “It’s such a kind thing to do, and we were chuffed to be able to give the Christmas tree to them to add to their celebrations.”

So valued is Horticap’s work that their proud patron continues to be none other than TV gardening legend and national treasure Alan Titchmarsh, who frequently visits and lends his support.

The support shown by Harrogate Advertiser readers will form a strong foundation to Horticap’s exciting new year, with new development plans afoot.

Horticap’s huge development plans

It is an exciting time for Horticap, with major development plans announced to build a new two-storey cafe and shop.

The ambition is to make it even more of a community hub, and explore new ways of showcasing the great work that students do.

Operations manager Phil Airey said: “Students live for coming up here, it means the absolute earth to them.”