Jacob’s Dream

Jacob’s garden completed

Sometimes you get projects you just can’t turn down. Our purpose as a business is to ‘Enhance lives and landscapes’ and about a year ago we were approached about a project that so perfectly fitted that purpose that  we knew we had to do it if we could. Jason Lock, our head of Design and Build takes up the story:

Bowles & Wyer were asked if they would like to help to build a garden for a 4 year old boy called Jacob by his grandfather Lawrence Perkins; it wasn’t until Lawrence explained that Jacob suffers from Dravets Syndrome that the significance became clear.

Dravet Syndrome is extremely rare, with less than 500 people (mainly children) with the condition in the UK. It is a form of life-limiting, catastrophic, epilepsy which is caused by a non-inherited gene mutation. Dravet children have very little immunity to illness; even a common cold can cause a seizure that leads to a stay in hospital. The seizures vary from myoclonic (drop seizures lasting seconds), hard to detect absences where children sometime stop breathing to life-threatening tonic clonic seizures (lasting from minutes to a couple of hours). Some children also have autism, others never walk, some lose or never gain the ability to talk and some cannot eat normally and have to be fed through a port in the stomach.

The main priority for Jacob’s parents is to give him a happy childhood and to expand his world to more than just a few rooms in the house. His development is slower than normal but he is a determined little boy who wants to do the same as every other toddler but there are many dangers for him, particularly in the garden. Jacob’s Dreams was started by the family two years ago to fund the building of a safe garden environment where Jacob could play on surfaces that would reduce fall injuries.

After a few meetings our Senior Designer Mark Latchford worked up a simple scheme that would allow Jacob to enjoy his garden, with an artificial lawn complete with shock pad and a terrace designed with safety play tiles. Whilst not a common site in most rear gardens they provided the perfect solution, reducing the fall risk for Jacob, yet still keeping the garden looking like a garden. Low raised borders using timber sleepers with the edges taken off and a raise area for Jacob to play in the sand were designed into the garden. The raised walls would also act as a support for Jacob to venture around the garden whilst holding onto the sleepers.

Emily, Darren and Glyn working away. Not often you see designers and landscapers mucking in together!

Over a two week period the garden was levelled and landscaped culminating in being planted by Mark Latchford and Emily Kaye from the design office as well our construction staff Glyn Christofoli and Darren Bates.

A simple garden that has made a world of difference to Jacob and his family, a dream come true.

Jacob’s Dreams was started by the family two years ago to fund the building of a safe garden environment where Jacob could play on surfaces that would reduce fall injuries. Family and friends have been raising funds ever since for both Jacob’s Dreams and Dravet Syndrome UK by running half marathons and by organising race evenings, children’s Christmas parties and annual golf events. It continues to raise money that will help to improve Jacob’s quality of life. Also the fundraising will provide new generation sensors to monitor his vital signs and a specially adapted wheelchair as he grows.

The Dream-team in the finished garden.
From L-R: Glyn, Darren, Mark and Emily

Post authored by Jason Lock, Head of Design and Build at Bowles & Wyer

We would like to thank the support received from Travis Perkins, Wickes, Easigrass, and Rochfords Nurseries that allowed us to make this happen.

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