Fred Walden has worked with Thrive for many years and his help and advice with the evaluation of equipment and tools for the Carry on Gardening website is invaluable.
Fred tells us his story:
"I began gardening at an early age, my dad was a vegetable growing fanatic and I started “helping” him as soon as I could toddle.
"This interest in gardening paid off well in my teens with a successful lawn mowing and garden maintenance business that distracted me from studying but paid for some fine motorcycles.
"After an accident at 21 I suddenly found myself in a wheelchair wondering how I could carry on gardening. I finished my Earth Sciences degree and moved into my own bungalow. Without a job I had plenty of time to adapt some tools and re-design the garden to suit my new situation.
"My attempts at tool and garden design became known at my local rehab centre and soon I was gainfully employed by the NHS researching equipment and techniques, and assisting clients as a horticultural therapist. It was at this time that I also began to work with Thrive, sharing information and resources to reach disabled gardeners nationwide, and beyond. During this time I was able to undertake some exciting projects including writing a book for the Disabled Living Foundation, designing gardens many gardens, including one for a BBC “ground force style” television program.
"Some of the specialized tools, created with the help of medical engineers at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, attracted interest from mainstream garden equipment manufacturers. If a tool could be used by someone with a disability and was designed well it would most likely be a good tool for any gardener to use. In 2000, redevelopment at the Hospital required the demolition of my therapy garden that had attracted visitors from around the world and I decided it was time to for me to move on too.
"After leaving the NHS I became self-employed and helped Thrive launch the first Carry on Gardening website. Currently most of my work is helping able-bodied gardeners find tools and equipment and also working with manufacturers to market better quality, easier to use products. To do this I started my own website in 2000 called www.fredshed.com
From Fredshed I market and sell my own tools, specialist tools from inventors and some of the better tools from large well known companies. Using this information I am also able to research suitable products for Thrive and keep the Carry on Gardening website up to date with the latest products for elderly and disabled gardeners."