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    Sophie’s Secret Garden

    Sophie who is aged thirteen has a rare condition called Hurlers 1. This condition is marked by progressive deterioration. Developmental delay is evident by the end of the first year, and patients usually stop developing between ages 2 and 4. This is followed by progressive mental decline and loss of physical skills.


Despite her condition, Sophie tries to lead a normal life. She regularly plays in her front garden and enjoys being outside where she gets pleasure from painting and other outdoor activities. Given her age, condition and her mums concern for daughters general safety,

Michelle (Sophie’s mum) was keen that Sophie spent her time in their back garden – this also meant that Michelle could keep a closer eye on her, however the back garden was inaccessible and required a great deal of work to make this area safe and appealing to Sophie.

Michelle made a number of appeals/requests for assistance from various charities, The London Borough of Waltham Forest and from Ascham Homes to assist with making her rear garden a safe and a secure place for her daughter to play in. Although in all cases the heart was willing no one was able to help with funding.

Breyer Group (a Framework contractor working in Waltham Forest and delivering Decent Home improvements on behalf of Ascham Homes) was made aware of Michelle’s aspirations and immediately accepted the challenge.

Tim Breyer, the Managing Director commented that “Breyer Group is committed to making sustainable contributions to the development and continual improvement of the communities in which we and our Partners work. Our dedicated Community Development Team are able to work collaboratively with our Clients and their residents, to tailor Project and People specific initiatives, which will have a direct impact at grass roots level, and enhance peoples lives long after our work as constructors has concluded.

The Secret Garden project has enabled Breyer Group to deliver this commitment and provide a high impact and hugely rewarding benefit to Sophie and her family, which will be enjoyed for many years to come”.

The work started at the beginning of July and was completed by the end of month. It included a new 6ft concrete post fencing system, a new drainage network; a new playing surface and patio area – which was located on the third tier of the garden.

During the works, Sophie was undergoing spinal surgery at the Great Ormond Street Hospital and during this difficult time for the family, Breyer Group made it a priority to understand the family’s needs and wants and worked around them accordingly. In a letter written to the Breyer Group, Michelle wrote that the “Workmen that did all the hard work in my garden were very courteous, respectful and very very hard working; never slacking off or time wasting. I had no problems leaving them in my house unattended. They always left my house clean and tidy – even securing my house at the end of the day if no body was at home.”

The end result was a fantastic transformation. Breyer Group solely funded and delivered a garden which cost in the region of £20,000. The new design included input from Michelle and was delivered with zero disruption to their daily lives (the garden also included a safe playing surface that was produced from recycled rubber).

Kevin Hartland, Construction Director (Breyer Group) was delighted with the outcome and said “It has been a pleasure to have been able to play a small part in enhancing Sophie’s life.” In a second letter from Michelle to the Breyer Group; she mentioned “that in 9 years, Sophie has a back garden to use that is safe. Sophie’s quality of life will be so much better now and much happier now that she has a garden to play in.”

Hassett Auguste Chief Executive Ascham Homes said, “We are delighted that Breyer was able to help in the true spirit of partnership.” His comments were also echoed by James Newman, Project Manager, Ascham Homes who said “Thank you Breyer Group and all involved in caring enough to make a difference and working hard to get such a great result.”