Camilla and Andy

Camilla’s story

I have lived at Toolerstone for over twenty years and it has been a very happy family home. Sadly, just before our first national lockdown, by husband Andy passed away. He had been a super fit and utterly super human being and died aged 58 from pancreatic cancer.

I’ve always thought of Toolerstone as being ‘his’ really. He was so proud of it and I suppose it was testament to his determination, drive and pure hard work, especially when you consider that he was brought up sharing one bedroom with his two brothers in a small council house near Great Yarmouth. He never complained about that upbringing and had immense respect and love for his parents, Margaret and Herbert. Margaret worked at the Birds Eye factory and Herbert was a municipal gardener. For this reason Andy always championed those who worked hard all their lives to provide for themselves and their families and yet, through no fault of their own, struggled to make ends meet.

Health care workers are perfect examples of those who work hard, serving others, often for little financial reward. And so, the idea to gift our ‘offering’ to those who work in the care sector in our home county of Cheshire seems to be a perfect fit with Andy’s ethos. We are reaching out to hospices, care homes and the NHS to offer day long experiences to their workers in the hope that they will come and enjoy a day away from their everyday stresses. Our offering to them is encapsulated in three words: create, escape, nourish.

The idea to offer a creative activity comes from me. I have always been a creative person and I understand how being immersed in creativity, especially if it is being taught in a well thought out environment by a knowledgeable tutor, can distract and focus the mind, and leave you feeling inspired.  The experience can help you escape your everyday, allowing you to spend time with like minded people, and you may just make something lovely to take home and be proud of.

‘Escape’ and ‘Nourish’ are the two other elements of what we are offering here. The ‘escape’ part comes from being in the gardens at Toolerstone. Andy was very keen on the gardens and he developed them significantly over the years with our head gardener, Simon. They would always be his first port of call as he came home from working in Manchester.  I would watch him unwind and relax as he wandered around the various ‘rooms’ and fed the fish in the pond; the stresses of the day slowly falling away from his shoulders. I would love to share that feeling of letting go and being immersed in the green stuff with others.

And lastly there is the ‘nourish’ part. Food has always been important to me; it is a way of expressing love and sharing it can bring joy and a sense of wellbeing. We have a well stocked vegetable and fruit garden here and we have appointed our very own cook, Babs, who is waiting to make jams and pickles, bake breads and cakes and use the seasonal crops to their best effect. We want you to feel welcome to come on in and enjoy a taste of Toolerstone.

In addition, we will be opening our doors to the general public from September 2021. We are selling tickets to all of our workshops on this website and, if you wish to purchase a place on one of our many day long experiences, then please be encouraged to do so knowing that you will be helping us to sustain our offering for a longer period of time and to a wider audience.

Thanks for reading, we hope to welcome you along very soon.

Camilla x

Organisations in our gifting programme

the joshua tree logo
we mind the gap logo
CCF (1)