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July 29 2014.

The third annual Macmillan Coastal Garden Trail organised by Driftwood Fundraising Group through Geoff Stonebanks's own garden in Seaford was held over the weekend of the 26th and 27th of July. 31 private gardens opened their gates to the public, four of them for the very first time and 21 of them brand new to this trail! The weather was glorious and hundreds of visitors turned out to see the lovely gardens on show from Brighton along the coast to Eastbourne.

Many garden owners sold plants that they had raised and invited artists to come and display work in their garden for sale with a small percentage going to Macmillan as well. There were also the inevitable home made teas and snacks served in many gardens as well.

One of the trail sponsors, Latest 7, made a film about the event to be shown when its new local TV channel launches in a few weeks time. The trail got underway with an official opening in the organisers garden at Driftwood, a garden one visitor, June Jaundoo, was heard to say, "Well, this is the garden of a wizard. It's another world in there!"

Chairman of Lewes District Council, Tony Nicholson and wife Angela along with Seaford Mayor, Mark Brown and Mayoress Vera, were on hand to get the proceedings going.

Sarah Coxhill, Macmillan Manager in Sussex said after the event of the effort Geoff Stonebanks had gone to to stage the trail, "I wanted to say how bowled over I was at the extent of the growth of the event, the following, the coverage, the quality and the enthusiasm. I hope you’re feeling proud as punch with yourself and all that you’ve achieved. As you know it’s not just the funds you raise but the enormous awareness you raise. As I’ve often said, the true impact of everything you’ve done and are doing can’t be measured, but please know it makes an outstanding contribution to what we’re trying to do in Sussex."

Driftwood Fundraising Group has now raised over £20,000 for Macmillan in Sussex, along with a further £23,000 for other local charities.

Geoff had invited the Mayors along the trail, in Seaford, Eastbourne, Brighton & Hove, Telscombe, Newhaven and Peacehaven, and all took time out in their busy schedules to visit many of the gardens along the way and support this excellent cause. BBC Sussex gardening expert for Dig It was on hand in Geoff's garden at Driftwood to offer gardening advice to all visitors.

The village of Piddinghoe trail raised an amazing £2200, while the wonderful secret walled garden at 122 Marine Parade over £600. Trail organiser, Geoff Stonebanks said, "Whilst I had hoped we might get even more over the weekend, it was extremely hot on the Saturday and maybe prospective visitors headed to the beach instead, but I want to express my sincere thanks to all those who helped make the event a great success, especially the 30 other garden owners who worked hard to get their gardens ready for visitors."

Coupled with all this, radio broadcaster Jonathan Kent came to the garden on the Sunday to interview Geoff about the relationship between his charity fundraising for Macmillan and social media for a programme he is doing on the World Service. He felt a real buzz in the garden and captured it on tape for his piece.

The event will take place again in 2015 but possibly split into two different smaller trails on different weekends.

If you want to consider opening your own garden in 2015 contact Geoff on 01323 899296