July 29 2015.

The 4th annual Macmillan Coastal Garden Trail got off to a wonderful party atmosphere at both Driftwood, home of trail organiser Geoff Stonebanks in Marine Drive, and in the Seaford Community Garden, both in Seaford!

Christine Walkden, the 2014 TV Gardener of the Year, as voted for by readers of national gardening magazine, was on hand to cut the ribbon at Driftwood, surrounded by many visitors and was serenaded by a group of singers as she entered the Community Garden in the town.

Geoff said: "I had invited Christine to be the patron several years ago and she readily agreed on the basis that she may not be able to attend the event in person. I was stunned last Autumn when she confirmed she would visit Seaford and open the trail."

Geoff went on to say: "Christine had driven home to Hertfordshire from Manchester on the Friday, then to Seaford early Saturday and left at 1.00pm to go to Yorkshire for a gardening talk at 8.00pm! A very busy lady, but one who everyone took to with her very down to earth attitude."

Tom Carter from Macmillan said: "Christine spoke with such passion and eloquence in advocating Macmillan Cancer Support that visitors were almost moved to tears."

At 11.00am the opening ceremony took place at Driftwood in the presence of local MP Maria Caulfield, Chair of LDC, Ruth O'Keefe and Tom Carter, Macmillan's Fundraising Manager, along with trail organiser Geoff Stonebanks, not to mention the many garden visitors who had been waiting since 10.30am to see Christine.

After the opening, Geoff gave Christine a tour of the garden and she posed for pictures. Tom Carter's two young children were captivated by the flowers in the garden and by the pet tortoise, Hector. Many wanted a picture with Christine, among them former Seaford Mayor Linda Wallraven and Geoff's Mum, Barbara, who was selling tickets to the event.

Geoff tells us he was quite shocked that visitors had travelled the distances they had to see his garden and then view other gardens on the trail. Angela and Gerald Taylor had travelled up from Paignton in Devon. Others came from Essex and London as well as the Surrey borders. The local Mayors also took time to visit the gardens and lend their support.

After spending time at Driftwood, Geoff took Christine to the Seaford Community Garden where she was greeted on her arrival by the assembled choir who struck up on seeing her. Many visitors were in the garden to see her and she was given a tour.

On returning to Driftwood she talked again with visitors and then drove north for her next engagement. Many visitors sat and enjoyed the tea and cakes on offer in the gardens, with great views out to sea at Driftwood.

Geoff says Saturday was a marvellous day with £6089.00 raised for Macmillan.

Sadly, Sunday was a complete disaster with the dreadful high winds and rain that prevailed most of the day. Many gardens saw no visitors at all. At 21 Tor Road in Peacehaven garden owners Gerard and Duncan were taken aback when the congregation from their church handed over £137 to help compensate for lost monies due to the weather. Sheena Bourn in Eastbourne took visitors into her conservatory for tea and cake to look out on the garden.

Geoff also heard about two intrepid ladies from Hailsham who phoned to see if he was open, before driving to Seaford and spending one and a half hours in the garden and the heated summer house for tea and cake.

Although all the monies were not to hand at time of writing, Geoff was confident he would have hit his £10000 target with no bother if the weather had been kinder on Sunday. Such a shame!

More can be read about the event at
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