Site search

7th July 2017

County gardeners tempted by lodgings offer to help out at Whalley Abbey

Whalley Abbey manager, Christine Nelson had a problem; benches in the Abbey gardens were dilapidated; fencing in crisis.

With limited resources, keeping tabs on a big garden at the Abbey (The Church of England in Lancashire’s Retreat and Conference Centre in the Ribble Valley) was proving a challenge.

Then Christine got chatting to the Rev Canon John Hall at a meeting.

His parish is St Peter and St David at Fleetwood, and among the many church organisations there is a group called ‘The Mustard Seeds’ - a team of sturdy lads dedicated to keeping the church and grounds up to scratch.

“Do you think,” Christine asked the Canon, “That your Mustard Seed group would help us with the grounds at Whalley Abbey?”

Her prayers were answered when Canon Hall came back to her with a big thumbs-up.

The Mustard Seeds were ready to scatter …

Christine was able to reward the group for their efforts with free board and lodgings in return for their hard work.

Meanwhile, a further request for volunteers; published in the Diocesan magazine ‘The See’ reaped more willing hands and the end result was a blitz recently over four days that saw 18 benches in the Whalley Abbey grounds repaired and painted; the fencing round the pond repaired and refurbished, and a whole host of weeding and gardening around the site.

Christine put the gardeners up at Whalley Abbey with free board and lodgings for the duration, and she is delighted with the results.

She said: “The gardens have been transformed by the hard work of the Mustard Seeds and our other volunteers,”

“I hope that we can make this an annual event and perhaps get more volunteers next year.”

Speaking today Diocesan Bishop, Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, offered his thanks to all those who had taken part in the mammoth effort. 

"Our Diocesan Retreat and Conference Centre at Whalley Abbey is an important part of the Diocesan life and I am delighted people from our churches were able to give their time so willingly to make a real difference to the grounds.

"This was a fantastic, successful initiative by Christine and the management team at the Abbey. It was a great idea to offer all those who helped free accommodation to thank them for their hard work.

The Bishop added: "I noticed the difference immediately during a recent visit to the Abbey and I am very grateful to each and every one of the volunteers. The whole Diocese, including every visitor to the Abbey in the coming months, will also be delighted to see the changes."

  • Picture shows the volunteer team outside Whalley Abbey. The Mustard Seeds are John Eastwood, David Watkins, John Joyce, Phil Walters, Scott Heyes and Ron Nicholas. They were joined by other volunteers Julie Holmes, Tom Holmes and Adrian Wilson.


Ronnie Semley