Mission accomplished as World War Two veteran’s garden is transformed by volunteers

Date published: 22 October 2020

A 102-year-old World War Two veteran from Rochdale has had his garden made over by selfless volunteers – so he can remain independent.

Part of Groundwork GM, Operation Re-Org had been approached by the Rochdale British Legion at the Armed Forces Breakfast Club on Thursday 8 October, asking if several paving stones could be sourced so that veteran Harold Burgess could continue to hang his washing out in his garden on Ravendale Close independently.

Harold, 102, began his career during World War Two in 1939, starting in North Africa before travelling through Sicily and Italy. He returned to the UK for the D-Day Landings before fighting his way through Nazi Germany with the 7 Medium Regiment Royal Artillery, transporting 6 inch Howitzer cannons.

Upon further investigation, it was discovered that more than a few paving slabs would be needed, so Operation Re-Org turned to social media, asking for assistance across several veterans’ groups. Rochdale Council’s Armed Forces Officer, Caen Matthews then contacted Man of Rochdale Paul Ellison to see if he could help, and a volunteer appeal was made.


Harold Burgess garden


Harold Burgess garden


Harold Burgess garden


After an overwhelming response seeing money, equipment and time donated, Harold’s garden was completely transformed over the weekend of 14-16 October by an army of volunteers: Wayne Stott, Ian Marshall, Gaz Stevenson, Alex Sharifi, Tim Ormerod, Paul Ellison, Tosh Brogan, Aimi McConnell, Adam Nesbitt, Chris Baddeley, Jordan Simpson, Rick Solan - RS Landscapes, Christine McHugh and Roy Down from Rochdale In Bloom, plus little helpers Caitlin Watson, 11, and Niamh McConnell, eight.



Terry Morley, Operation Re-Org Manager from Groundwork GM, said: “I had the utmost pleasure to chat with Harold. He is one of the nicest, bravest and most humble men I have ever met and he asked me to thank everyone for their contributions, work completed and messages he received. 102 and still going strong; a true veteran and gentlemen we are all very proud of.

“The biggest thank you must go to Paul Ellison for projecting managing this. Without his knowledge, contacts and true community spirit, it would never have turned out so well, so quick and with very little disturbance to Harold.”


Harold Burgess garden


Paul Ellison, who helped manage the project, added: "It was fantastic to be part of this project, and to see the community come together for such a special gentleman. Well done to all the volunteers and supporters."

Donations were also made by R & M Building supplies, Frank Keys tool hire, Gordon Riggs garden centre, Christine Campbell from Garden of Eden, John Swinden the singing jeweller, Steven Dougie from Jet Cleaning Services, the Norden Co-Op, and David Wilshaw from Norden Carpets and Flooring – who added a new hallway carpet to finish off the transformation.

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