Gardeners in Wilmslow, Styal and Alderley Edge show they care with flowers

PUBLISHED: 17:10 17 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:19 20 February 2013

Gardeners in Wilmslow, Styal and Alderley Edge show they care with flowers

Gardeners in Wilmslow, Styal and Alderley Edge show they care with flowers

Gardeners in Wilmslow, Styal and Alderley Edge show they care in a green-fingered way<br/>WORDS AND PICTURES BY CHARLES HENN AND BERNARD SPILSBURY

Hundreds of flower enthusiasts who visited a Wilmslow-based water-for-Africa charitys Gardens Day helped to break its record for fund-raising - helped by 2,000 from a mystery donor.

The Wilmslow Wells for Africa event meant 20 gardens large and small were open to the public in Styal, Handforth, Wilmslow and Alderley Edge. The 8,895 raised is the equivalent of several new water-systems in drought areas.

The anonymous gift boosted the Garden Days income to its highest level since it started 20 years ago. Wilmslow Wells was founded more than 25 years ago by a Wilmslow woman, the late Brenda Mottershead. She came home from a visit to Africa, determined to do something to help villages that, with no clean drinking water, suffered many deadly waterborne diseases.

The charity, which is run by unpaid volunteers, is proud of its record of spending over 99 per cent of the money it raises on the provision of wells and other water systems. It employs the best engineering skills, and uses trusted contacts in Africa to ensure that disease-free water is provided where it is most needed.

New to the charitys annual Garden Day was the half-acre plot on Hough Lane, Alderley Edge, where retired accountant Peter Woolley grows more than 200 species of edible plants many of them unknown to gardeners, and missing from the lists supplied by most vegetable catalogues.

The garden was split off from his parents property after they died some years ago. Peter, whose plot has featured in a number of specialist magazines, was happy to be helping to bring fresh water to remote African villages and ironically, during the long spell of dry weather last April, he was forced to bring 20 gallons of water daily from his home in Macclesfield six miles away because he has no running water in his detached garden.

In Welton Drive, Wilmslow, retired college lecturer Jane Mitchell, was another first timer to the Gardens Day showing visitors how she uses the flowers in her garden as the inspiration for a series of silk scarves that she designs in her studio, which was also open to callers.

Another hit with children of all ages was the garden in The Circuit, Wilmslow, where Bethan Phillips and Richard Weston were displaying their miniature railway, complete with round-the-garden track, four mini steam locomotives, and a stopping-place at the fully-equipped Lindow Station.

Peter and Tess Attwell had a bumper day at their home in Adlington Road, Wilmslow, with the help of Tesss mother, Audrey Holly, aged 90. She rose early to make fresh scones by 9am helping to sell 170-worth of teas to visitors during the Gardens Day.

The event is the charitys biggest fund-raiser, but numbers were curtailed by the threat of rain on the day. It looked like a lower take than usual, until the anonymous donor stepped in with the surprise 2,000 gift that brought the funds raised to a best-ever 8,895.

A delighted WWA chairman Helen Battilana said: We are thrilled. It is amazing! I cant imagine who gave us this magnificent donation.

In the quarter of a century since it was founded, the charity has raised over 700,000 to provide more than 200 clean water systems, including deep wells, to villages, schools and even hospitals, many of them in remote areas in 15 African countries. It means they are no longer forced to use pools contaminated by disease.

Added Helen: This sum was raised by the enormous efforts of the gardeners over many months of hard work, as well as the assistance of many helpers who made and served refreshments in a number of the gardens, as well as in St. Johns church rooms at Lindow.

We are grateful for all their work, and for all the people who came to see the gardens I met one couple who had managed to visit 17 of them during the day.

Latest from the Cheshire