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Lord and Lady Howe attend summer house opening at Cotswold Cottage, Hazlemere

Lord Howe, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords and Minister of State for Defence, accompanied by Lady Howe, were guests of honour on Sunday November 26th, when they officially opened the summer house at Cotswold Cottage, a learning disability service run by the Fremantle Trust.

The project owes its success to the support given by local businesses, which was encouraged and coordinated by Avril and David Thompson.

Both Lord and Lady Howe were delighted to mark the completion of a community project instigated by service manager Diane Bryant and team leader Gemma Bryant. Volunteers and local companies responded to residents’ wishes to enjoy the outdoor space in a summer house specially designed to be wheelchair friendly.

A keen advocate of investment in community services, the local MidCounties Co-op donated £900 from their Community Programme to facilitate this venture, having previously done voluntary work for Cotswold Cottage.

Local specialist company, Ted’s Sheds, came on board when business owner, Steve, was approached about the project. He designed, constructed and installed a bespoke summer house for a very minimal cost with double doors for wheelchair access and attractive glazing on three sides.

The summer house proved to be a genuine catalyst for collaboration as two local builders’ merchants, Lords of Seer Green and Gordons of Hazlemere, part-donated the paving slabs and sand to create a patio and linking footpath, in the true spirit of community enterprise.

David Thompson and Ray Cox laid the patio and path and some plants were generously donated by gardeners from the local allotment for residents to enjoy in the outside space.

Commenting on the event, Liz Harris, service director of learning disabilities at The Fremantle Trust, said:

“It was a real honour to welcome Lord and Lady Howe alongside the summer house project volunteers to mark the official launch of this fantastic facility for residents. We’re very grateful to the whole project team for turning this lovely idea into a reality and for working so hard to galvanise support from the community.”

Avril Thompson added:

“I would like to add my gratitude for the wonderful generosity of local companies and for the help given by volunteers, as well as all the hard work from the team at Cotswold Cottage. I hope that residents, their families and members of the team enjoy their new summer house and that the relationships we have established will continue to flourish.”