By Betsy Everett
The hidden gardens of a dales hamlet came out of the shadows at the weekend in honour of a late and much-loved former resident, raising money for a service he supported for more than a decade.
The people of Newbiggin in Bishopdale revived the custom started 25 years ago of opening their back gardens, hidden from view behind the facades of the houses on the one, main, street to public view.
Six hours and more than 200 visitors later, £1,365 had been raised for the Great North Air Ambulance, and the legacy of the late Brian White, former landlord of the nearby Street Head Inn, had been honoured.
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In the 10 years until Brian’s death in December 2014 Brian and his partner, Peter Waterfall, who moved into the village in 1997 following Brian’s retirement from the inn the previous year, had raised around £13,000 for the emergency helicopter service.
“We first became really aware of the value of the service in 2004 when a neighbour was taken to hospital after she fell downstairs,” says Peter.
That year they held a joint birthday party and raised over £1,000 for the air ambulance: Brian himself was later to need it for an emergency airlift to the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough following a stroke.
“The joint birthday party became an annual event in the village until Brian’s 80th in July 2014 which he knew would be his last. I was very touched when the villagers decided the Hidden Gardens day should continue the tradition to honour Brian’s memory. We are a very close community,” he said.
Diane Howarth, one of the organisers of the Hidden Gardens day, said she was delighted with the results.
“It was a great example of how even the smallest of communities can come together, do some good and have a great time. People support the air ambulance wherever possible as it’s so important to the area and it was a lovely way of continuing Brian’s legacy,” she said.