Since moving from Yorkshire to Carrutherstown in 1995, we have recognised the contribution that our business can make to the local area and to the wider global community. We are very keen to develop a sustainable ‘local friendly’ business, and to support the local economy in terms of jobs, suppliers and the products sold in our Garden Centre. 30 of our staff all live within a 15 mile radius of the business and much of what we purchase for the tea room is from local suppliers. We also, wherever possible endeavour to use local tradesmen when we need work done on the garden centre.

Hetland Garden Centre also attracts customers to the area from as far afield as Penrith and Stranraer which I believe benefits the local community, and these customers often visit our neighbouring businesses such as Hetland Hall Hotel, Carrutherstown Hotel and Dalton Pottery. We believe that the growth in our business has created more business for our neighbours.

We are also active in supporting local communities and are proud of our involvement with the Lockerbie academy in helping to set up a rural skills garden. At Christmas we always create the opportunity for a local primary school to sing in aid of charity in the garden centre. Along with local charity causes, we are passionate about using the business to raise funds for African projects.

In 2010 we established a link with the Buckinghamshire based charity, Work Aid, who refurbish old tools and send them to east Africa. Thanks to the generosity of our customers we were able to collect 9 pallets of tools, all of which are now helping the disadvantaged in Africa. Following on from the success of this Tools for Africa’ campaign we partnered with ‘Re-Cycle’. This Essex based charity collects unwanted bikes to send to Africa. Again this campaign was a major success, and we end up collecting over 450 bikes – a complete container.

We followed this campaign by working with Richard Timms, the Chairman of the world’s oldest football club, Sheffield FC. The Boots for Africa campaign saw us collecting 200 pairs of children’s football boots to send to disadvantaged young people in Africa. You never know, one of the pairs donated by our customers might inspire the next Didier Drogba! Of course these campaigns would not have been successful without the generosity and support of our customers, many of whom really got behind the campaigns, so a big thank you to all who have been involved in our charity campaigns. Keep your eyes open for the next campaign!