Grandmother house-bound for five years transforms courtyard for charity
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
A grandmother from Norwich who has barely left her house during the past five years has created “a new world” from her small courtyard garden to help inspire others.
Due to serious illness, followed by vulnerability and poor mental health, city centre resident Lindsay Maher decided to dig deep, despite suffering from some of her darkest days.
Five years ago, the now 61-year-old kept experiencing discomfort in the right-hand side of her body which would cause her to pass out from the pain.
She was initially told by doctors that she was suffering from a kidney infection, but after 17 hospital appointments, she was eventually diagnosed with having a kidney “blow out” - a type of rupture which causes damage from a tear in the organ.
Despite having stents fitted to help, Ms Maher had to have the kidney removed in early 2019.
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Soon after this she became housebound due to having low immunity. This meant her three daughters and numerous grandchildren were unable to visit her due to concerns over infection.
Then in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic hit, and Mr Maher was forced to continue to self-isolate.
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She said: “By this point I was very depressed and I had been prescribed anti-depressants.
“I wanted my girls to know I was okay though, even though I was ill, so I decided that by doing up the garden I could show them I was okay.
"It was tough and it was hard work, but I was able to share photos of what I was up to on Facebook, so they didn’t have to worry about me so much.
“Doing the garden has helped my self-esteem. It took a long while but at one point it was the only thing I had to look forward to.”
While being bound to her house and small courtyard garden in her rented property on Sussex Street, she transformed the garden into a leafy oasis.
The garden is stocked with hundreds of plants, a fountain, pond, statues, and is home to numerous koi and ten chipmunks. Many of the plants and items have been donated to her.
And it was during a rare visit to Anglia Square where she came across St Martins charity shop.
She was so impressed by St Martins' ethos of asking people to pay what they can afford, she decided she wanted to help.
She added: “When they told me that everything was priced at whatever I could afford, I couldn’t believe it. That is what made me want to help the charity and help other people. So, I decided to open up the garden to raise money.”
A former employee of the Earlham estate for many years, Ms Maher headed up community projects and has years of experience working with people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“I hope that by doing this, it will remind people about the charity and inspire them to donate.
“The garden is a celebration of my recovery from a nervous breakdown and coming out of the other side of that.
"I have built my own world around me and it is something which is very special. I knew, if anything happened to me, then my girls would be able to look at the garden and know I was okay.”
Her neighbour, artist Lyn Honeywood Hall, has joined her in selling refreshments, prints and cards, and has so far raised more than £150.
The garden will be opening again on Saturday, September 25, between 11am and 3pm. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the garden and feed the chipmunks and koi in return for a donation to St Martins. The garden is located at 24 Sussex Street.
She added: “I am the most negative person but I did eventually ask for help. There may not always be a happy outcome for everyone but if you try and trust, then that is a big step which may help.”