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Bromley woman diagnosed with brain tumour needs help transforming garden

PUBLISHED: 12:36 07 August 2013 | UPDATED: 12:36 07 August 2013

Ann and Paul Greenfield in their garden

Ann and Paul Greenfield in their garden

Archant

When Ann Greenfield was diagnosed with a brain tumour her life changed forever.

The former chef, 55, who lives in Friar Road, Orpington, was subject to hours of operations, radiotherapy and copious doses of steroids after her initial diagnosis in 1997.

Her condition meant giving up a job she had enjoyed at Biggin Hill Airport and losing touch with many friends, as well as significant memory loss.

Husband Paul, who has back problems after a motorbike crash in the 1980s, quit his job as a mechanic with BT to become Ann’s carer. He has since cooked, cleaned and generally taken care of his wife.

The pair found themselves with few reasons to be cheerful, compounded last year when their garage was set alight by vandals, destroying their car.

However, from the ashes rose a series of events that both Ann and Paul could never have imagined.

Friends clubbed together, along with local businesses, to revamp their home after the fire and packed them off on their first holiday in 15 years while the work took place.

Spearheaded by Ann’s childhood friend, Sue Spencer, this year the friends have turned their focus towards what Ann describes as their “jungle” – the back garden.

However, a series of unfortunate events have threatened to scupper the garden project, including a friend’s daughter falling under a horse (she is now recovering), which means numbers have been lighter than first planned.

Ann is now looking to the kindness of strangers for help, whether it’s getting their hands dirty or donating items to speed up the process so she can start enjoying the summer weather.

“Our home makeover was fantastic because it was something we’d have never been able to afford and neither of us was fit enough to do,” said Ann.

“I knew Sue was going to paint but we had no clue about the rest.

“We were so overjoyed and she’s doing it again. This time it’s our garden. What a friend she is.

“I’d love to see some fuschias, forest flames and fruits bushes out there – but nothing too hard to handle.”

After providing new carpets, curtains and flat-screen televisions, the group of helpers started a project to revamp the couple’s garden last month.

They aim to make it easy to maintain – including an extended patio, a pergola for shade and artificial turf so they don’t have to worry about mowing.

“It’s very hard to be reliant on the kindness of other people, but a bit easier when you know those people care for you,” said Ann.

“Paul finds it harder to accept than me but I think anyone who knows any person in my position should help. Just go and ask if there’s anything they need because there might be something simple they really want but can’t do themselves.”

Ann has been able to rely on ever-present friend Sue, whom she met 38 years ago, to drag the garden project along with the help of local charity Give 2 Give, as well as donations from companies Grono, Walkers and a couple from Reigate who donated patio furniture.

Sue said: “We have been through ups and downs together. I just think it’s really sad what’s happened to her because they were a really social couple.

“They had really good jobs and when you’re down on your luck people drift away. We have had fun doing the garden and we all feel a very nice sense of well-being.”

With her home almost completely transformed, Ann could find few words to express her gratitude towards Sue but emphasised “she has always been there”.

She said: “When I had my first operation, I woke up to the sight of Paul and Sue. She’s just amazing.”

If you’d like to lend a hand with Ann’s garden makeover, or your business would like to donate items to Ann and Paul, contact joshua.fowler@archant.co.uk.

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