We are proud to announce the winners of the inaugural Athena in Bloom competition, our new company-wide gardening challenge.
All of our homes across East Anglia have worked tirelessly to improve the quality of their gardens so they’re exciting and welcoming for our residents, friends and family, as well as our community and local wildlife. Our competition took in a range of categories and we asked for a strong focus on resident and community engagement.
This year’s judges chose winners for a couple of categories each and were:
Ajay Tegala – Wildlife Presenter and conservationistClare Vile – Blind VeteransMala Agarwal – Managing DirectorKatherine Foley – Operations DirectorMike Parris – Regional Clinical ManagerJames Eley – Marketing ManagerLisa Vile – Sales and Hospitality Manager
We are pleased to announce that our overall winner is Aria Court Care Home in March, Cambridgeshire.
The judges chose Aria as their winners because the whole team pulled together and showed huge commitment to developing all areas of their garden. Their progress through the competition has been remarkable and they’re worthy winners of our inaugural Athena in Bloom competition.
Mav Feast, Home Manager at Aria, said “The past two years has been a labour of love, redeveloping gardens to generate an environment that is both sustainable and meets the holistic needs of our residents. It’s been a shared passion for the team; spreading far and wide through residents, relatives, team members and the wider community. We’ve worked with Tesco, FACET, Factory shop and many more members of the local community.”
He continued, “I am immensely proud of the contribution all stake holders have made and continue to make on the transformation the home has taken. None of this could be possible without the support of every single person; whether it be donations of seeds for the wild gardens, support to upcycle marble for our new bar in our very own ‘break away’ area. I cherish deeply the commitment and hard work of our team and this award is richly deserved by our residents and team.”
Ajay selected Aria Court because, “For me, there’s things about each individual home that I love (e.g. Avocet working with Suffolk Wildlife Trust for advice), but the winner has to be Aria Court because of the variety of things achieved and ambitions for further development in the future. As well as the wildflower meadow, I love the orchard – the fact that is being managed with insects in mind and also to inspire residents’ past memories.”
Clare from Blind Veterans chose Amberley as her winners as she was particularly impressed with how Amberley considered the term ‘sensory’ so holistically and the interpretation has evidenced fantastic resident engagement and supports needed. I also really like the approach of involving team members from across the home – a fantastic collaborative approach. The concept of an interactive and accessible music station is really inventive.
Katherine explained, “The winner’s gardening club brought a smile to everyone’s face; our residents were very proud of their garden and loved showing everyone around during the judging. It is evident that a lot of thought goes into ensuring that our residents are involved in the gardens and projects around the home. It is clear that being part of the gardening club at Aria gives our residents lots of enjoyment and is great fun.”
Mike chose our winner for their gardening club’s efforts creating an interactive space for our residents living with dementia to enjoy. They partnered with a local firm to source a variety of equipment which they used to create a sensory area. They worked with a representative from the Eden Project to give them guidance on flowers and plants which were safe, edible and with new features like a bubble machine for their community their new garden is really engaging for our residents.
Chosen by Mala, Amberley were our winners because they grew a huge veggie patch with a broad range of herbs and greens. It looked great, they had clear resident involvement and we were really impressed with the plans to use what they’d grown.
Judged by our Sales and Hospital Manager, Lisa, she chose Amberley because, she loved the variety of activity and thought process that has gone into using home grown produce in a variety of different ways. Activities around reminiscence offer so much more than just the act of eating food. We appreciated how Amberley’s evidence pack showcased homegrown food sparking lively conversations. There is a real holistic feel to your approach which shows you have carefully considered how to give the residents the best experience.
James, our Marketing Manager chose the winner for this category. With the company focusing on sustainability, this was a really important category for us. Athena have planted over 2,000 trees and we continue to plant 5 trees for everyone who moves into our homes, we’re implementing sustainable choices all the time and all of you are working so hard to build local relationships. Ashlynn have been working on their composting project for a number of years, and with designating composting spaces, genuine knowledge and interest in the process and for fantastic use of their compost around their home, Ashlynn were worthy winners.
Aria took home both of these categories with one of their projects.
Aria’s maintenance team designed and built a moveable from for a living wall. This allowed all of our residents to join in with Athena in Bloom, watering the plants from their rooms and being able to enjoy a sensory experience which could come to them. It was creative, innovative and a novel idea.
James chose the winner for this category and he explained, “Goodwins took a unique angle with this category.
They featured one of their residents who is deaf blind and spent time with him to smell the scents of a variety of flowers from the garden.
They then created a picture mosaic using their lifestyles photos. It was elaborate, thoughtful and a touching photo.”
Mala was our judge for this key category, her winners, Avocet Court, have been on a real journey.
They started with a blank canvas and extensive grounds. They’ve chosen a few key areas to focus on this year and we were really impressed with the first impression they’ve created in their car park and around the café entrance, as well as the clear improvements to the garden on their dementia community.
They consulted a local wildlife charity and used that relationship to great effect promoting their home locally. We’re really excited to see what they manage to achieve next year
This one wasn’t very close and the judges had never seen sunflowers so tall!
With sunflowers literally head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, Goodwins‘ 3.2m (10.5 foot) tall sunflowers took home the prize!
A huge congratulations to all of our winners. It’s a true testament to each of our homes that the judges had such a tough time choosing our winners. Their projects really enhanced our residents’ experiences and are providing fantastic spaces for all of our residents and their loved ones to enjoy!
We’re looking forward to next year.