A church service was held in January at Beech Hill, Berkshire to remember the life of gardening charity Thrive’s founding member The Rev’d Dr Geoffrey Udall who would have celebrated his 100th birthday on Monday January 16th 2017.
Thrive would not be the charity it is today without a great deal of help from this wonderful kind and caring man who bequeathed us his Trunkwell Estate in this lovely Berkshire village.
Kathryn Rossiter, Chief Executive of Thrive, said: "This generous gift put the charity on a sound, solid footing during the 1990s and enabled us to create a series of wonderful gardens in which to work and help people.
"Hundreds of client gardeners now come to Thrive, working with our horticultural therapists in order to feel better both physically and mentally.
"The estate he bequeathed is home to our head office, known as The Geoffrey Udall Centre, where therapists work alongside office staff, fundraisers and our training team. And it’s where we provide administrative support to our three regional centres.
"It was right and fitting that we remembered Geoff in 2017 when he would have been 100. He is buried in the churchyard with his wife Eleanore, who pre-deceased him, and gardeners from Thrive look after their graves."
The service was conducted by the Rev’d Chris Leslie and villager Iris Wait spoke movingly to the congregation about Geoff the man, ending with "Thank you Dr Geoff. You made our lives richer. God Bless you, I will never forget you."
Prayers were said and thanks given to Geoffrey. Hymns sang included 'All Things Bright and Beautiful’ and 'To Be A Pilgrim’ the latter of which was sang at his Memorial Service in Reading 1994.
Client gardeners at Thrive also made a wonderful tree in honour of his 100th birthday anniversary which was decorated with hands from all clients and Beech Hill staff, volunteers and support workers.
It was co-ordinated by horticultural therapist Aggie Michalec who said: "Everyone traced their hands and selected one colour to decorate the cut outs with symbols that represent them as unique and individual people.
"Everyone drew pictures and wrote wonderful thoughts, expressions and life stories relating to what Thrive means to them.
"Some added birthday wishes and a thank you to Geoff who is affectionately remembered by everyone at Thrive. Our tree symbolises Thrive as beginning life as a small seed nearly 40 years ago.
"We have strong roots thanks to Geoff and we hope he would be proud today to see how profoundly what he first imagined has influenced the lives of so many.
"Each 'hand-leaf’ tells a story. To be who we are now we do our best by working hard, being happy, cultivating new friendships, creating peace and offering support in a free environment.
"Thank you Geoff for believing in us and in the power of gardening to change peoples’ lives."