20 Questions

Dora Williams in the garden.

We actively encourage our residents to continue as many lifelong hobbies and interests as they can. A prime example is former headteacher Dora Williams, one of the most active garden volunteers at Braemar Lodge in Salisbury. Dora enjoys doing gentle daily maintenance tasks in the garden whatever the season, including deadheading, sweeping and tidying up, and watering.

Working with gardener Lesley King, Dora and other residents and team members have helped to create and look after a garden that has won successive awards. Judges at the Salisbury City Council Garden Awards last year awarded it a second ‘Gold Gilt’, the highest gardening grade set by the Royal Horticultural Society.

One of Dora’s tasks is to tend the plant life around a wheelchair-friendly woodland walk which stretches for more than 30 metres amid pear trees, ferns and primroses, and leads into a small orchard complete with raspberry and blackberry plants and a bug house. Along the way are benches, bird baths and wooden leaning posts with paintings of birds done by residents in craftwork sessions.

Dora Williams with the bug house.

Here’s what Dora says about the woodland walk and garden: “We have a whole variety of plants getting established. They have taken to the new walk extremely well. The birdlife is absolutely beautiful here. Blue tits and robins love the space and the squirrels are very active too.”

We thank Dora for taking part in 20 Questions. Here are her responses:


Q: Who was your first childhood hero?
A: It has to be my dad who, with my mum, taught me the joys of the outdoors and love of a garden.
Q: What would be your ideal holiday?
A: Climbing in the Alps or, nearer home, being in the wilds of western Scotland and bird watching from the islands,
with friends.
Q: What are you superstitious about?
A: I am not superstitious.
Q: Who would you most like to be trapped in a lift with?
A: David Attenborough .
Q: Who do you most admire?
A: The Queen.
Q: What car do you drive?
A: Alas, I drive no longer but have always enjoyed it. It has been a great joy taking my friends a number of times up to Scotland in a Honda Civic and exploring out of the way places.
Q: What makes you angry?
A: Children being harmed, and greed.
Q: What is your favourite smell?
A: Sweet peas and honeysuckle.
Q: Cats or dogs?
A: Dogs. I have nearly always kept a dog. I am a great animal lover.
Q: What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
A: Make myself comfortable and say my prayers. ??
Q: What is your earliest memory?
A: Being in my pram in the garden at Farnborough, near the aerodrome, when an airship took off and flew very low overhead.
Q: Which TV/radio programme do you try never to miss?
A: Dad’s Army, Countryfile, a good classical play and the TV news.
Q: What is the best thing about being a garden volunteer?
A: Being in the great outdoors and all the joy that brings. Watching the garden develop and being with
like-minded people.
Q: …And what is the worst?
A: When the gardener is away and I have to keep the garden watered during very hot spells of weather. What a responsibility it is keeping it all alive.
I do enjoy it though!
Q: What would be your desert island luxury?
A: Probably making friends with some wild creature for comfort and to take away loneliness.
Q: What do you wish you were good at?
A: I would love to be really good at oil painting and playing the violin.
Q: What has been the crowning moment in your life to date?
A: Passing my advanced Froebel course in kindergarten education under Cambridge University.
Q: What is your favourite meal?
A: Roast lamb with runner beans or garden peas and new potatoes, followed by apple sponge and cream.
Q: What would be your dream job?
A: Helping disabled children to feel they have achieved.
Q: If you could bring something extinct back to life what would it be?
A: As a Christian, I would love to have a good chat with one of the disciples. John would be interesting.

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