The Heart of Bucks ‘Inspiring Buckinghamshire’ series gives local people from a range of sectors a chance to share their knowledge and insights to help inspire others.
Here we are speaking with Charlie Powell, Co-Founder and General Manager at Lindengate.
Tell us about yourself and your connection to Buckinghamshire.
I have lived in Bucks since my husband Dean and I walked up the aisle of St John The Baptist Church in Aldbury 30 years ago and 25 of those have been in Wendover. So, for half of my life I have done my best, in amongst working and bringing up my son Jake, to be an active member of the community. My background is in retail marketing, event management and catering and although I constantly use the skills that I learnt in these areas, more fundamental to who I am, is my passion for the natural environment and the importance that it has in supporting healthy and happy communities.
What personal achievements are you most proud of?
Whilst Jake was young I worked within the Church Community of Wendover as Parish Administrator, building up the Junior church environment and spending many hours singing and playing my flute as part of the church music group. With my love of cooking it was during this time that I also picked up on my childhood experience of home-grown food and rekindled my considerable passion for all things gardening. And…. Thanks to the suggestion of a very dear friend, I turned it into a job and became a full-time professional gardener, eventually running my own successful business.
It was the benefit that I gained from a daily connection to nature that inspired me to set up Lindengate so others could find their own peace in a beautiful natural space. I had no idea how but knew it was the right thing to do. I asked a friend to join me and together we set out on a mission to gather like-minded people around us to create a therapeutic garden designed to support people’s wellbeing with meaningful nature-based activities. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that 9 years later Lindengate would be what it is today. A thriving, happy community of nearly 30 staff and over 220 volunteers passionate about and understanding of the fact that if you nurture nature, it will nurture you. We are helping hundreds of Buckinghamshire people of all ages to walk their own individual journeys towards recovery and thousands to build resilience and wellbeing into their lives through spending time at Lindengate. It’s all really quite humbling to have been such an integral part of something so beautiful.
What are some of the challenges you have faced, and how have you overcome them?
I have struggled with my well-being for most of my adult life and at its worst, it was often very debilitating. Time spent outside connected to nature I now realise was a very important coping mechanism for me. It took me 45 years but through running a gardening business I had at long last found a way of life that enabled me to build resilience into my well-being and to this day I have to spend a couple of hours a day outside, doing just that.
Running Lindengate has not been without its challenges mind you, and there has been much climbing of slate mountains and digging deep, not to mention a good few sleepless nights. One thing has always been clear though and that is that if what you are doing is essentially right then usually solutions can be found and there will be a way through. Sharing and collaborating with a wide variety of like-minded people, a can-do attitude and a firm belief that the dream will come true have been key alongside large amounts of passion and commitment. It’s incredible what a united and determined community can do.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
In amongst all of the people power, nature has played its part embracing every opportunity to regenerate existing and new habitats at Lindengate’s 6 acres site. Working alongside nature as our teacher, Lindengate has become a very special place. So much so that it has enabled us to become as well known for supporting the natural environment across Buckinghamshire as we are for our work in nature-based health and wellbeing. And if I ever need advice I look to the natural world for answers with so many of life’s solutions mirrored within its multifaceted but nevertheless balanced and sustainable character.
What is your greatest hope for the future for Buckinghamshire?
I can only hope that in the future everyone in Bucks can have access to and benefit from communities like Lindengate that nurture nature so it can nurture them.
If you’d like to read any more of our Inspiring Buckinghamshire entries, please click here.