19 July 2024

Celebrating 30 years of dedicated volunteering by Friends of Hamilton Gardens

Hamilton Gardens is proudly celebrating 30 years of ‘unwavering contributions’ from dedicated volunteers at the Friends of Hamilton Gardens, during the National Volunteer Week(16–22 June).

Over the past 30 years, Friends of Hamilton Gardens -a charity group, raised more than $3.5 million to continue the development and improvement of the gardens. Last year alone, their efforts resulted in $130,000 in fundraising, which has supported projects like the new Medieval Garden currently under development. 

volunteer Eileen Wilcox (R) giving planting advice to a visitor

Each year the work of volunteers in the Information Centre is the equivalent of more than $120,000 in paid hours.

August 2024 will mark the 30-year anniversary of the Friends playing an essential role in enriching the gardens through their time, skills, support and fundraising. 

Hamilton Gardens Director Lucy Ryan said the relationship between Hamilton Gardens and the Friends is truly special ad appreciated their hard work.

“Their dedication has greatly improved our gardens and community. We sincerely appreciate their ongoing partnership and hard work. Thanks to our volunteers, our Gardens have become a gem in the Waikato and a world-class visitor attraction.” 

Hamilton Gardens
Gardens are in top 1% globally (Photo/NewsViews)

Carol Webb, Vice-President of the Friends of Hamilton Gardens, said the Gardens had been a community project ever since the idea was first put forward former Garden’s director Dr Peter Sergel. 

“It was community people who got together to make Peter’s dream come true and ever since then one way or another local people have donated their money, their time, and their energy to help the gardens grow. I think the community feels like the gardens are part of them, and thanks to them the gardens are what they are.” 

Volunteers at Hamilton Gardens serve in various capacities, from staffing the Information Centre to assisting with events such as the Medieval Festival and Kite Day. A group of keen gardeners grow plants for a monthly plant sale, while others welcome visitors, give advice, and help with wayfinding and accessibility. 

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Marilyn Yeoman, a longstanding member of the Friends, said they were a dedicated group who believe in the gardens as a great asset to Hamilton. 

“What I get out from being a volunteer? A sense of community but also meeting many people from overseas,” she said.

Carol also paid tribute to the memory of a longstanding Friends member Rena Williams who died on 8 May this year. Rena, a tireless volunteer, ran the roaster for 30 years. Rena was awarded runner up in the Volunteering Waikato Long Service Award in 2021.

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