Thursday 13 October 2022 - Community Minded

Restoring a Secret Garden

City living can be a vibrant and exciting experience but for many children, growing up in a largely grey, concrete environment can be challenging, depressing even.

This is why Tokio Marine HCC is a strong supporter of the fantastic Trees for Cities charity. Their ambition is pretty simple but also epic in its scale – they are ‘revitalising forgotten spaces, creating healthier environments and getting people excited about growing, foraging and eating healthy food’. Having already engaged nearly 25,000 pupils in their schools’ programme, it really is a great charity to support.


Louise Lipka, Exposure Analyst arranged for the Catastrophe Exposure Management Team to take part in a volunteering day with Trees for Cities. Read about her experience below:

I love that Tokio Marine HCC supports Trees for Cities and I wanted to get our team of 12 outdoors for the day and help make a difference by working on one of their projects. This turned out to be helping to restore a secret and slightly neglected, city garden in Crystal Palace.

The secret garden itself is very beautiful – it even has a beehive and pond. It’s closed off to the public but open for schools to use for educational purposes and to teach children about the delights of gardening, something most of them would otherwise not be able to experience.

Our task was to help clean up the garden but more importantly, to lay the ground for the charity to install more planting beds to allow more children to engage and interact. There was only one bed when they took over the secret garden, but the plan is to install another five and it was our job to do the dirty, grunt work and get the garden ready for the professionals!

To be honest, we thought we were in for a bit of weeding and tidying up, but the reality was much more arduous. In the end, we had to cut three large steps into the sloping ground of the garden, lay planking, clearing brambles (I’ve still got some of the scratches!) and do lots and lots of shovelling. Oh, and the MASSIVE boulder of chalk that had to be shifted. But the less said about that the better…We were all aching the next day but it was a sign of all our hard work!

We got through everything in about five hours and not only did we get the garden all nice and tidy again, we also managed to build two more flower beds for the children to enjoy when they next visit.

It was hard graft, certainly more physically taxing than sitting at a desk all day, but in the afternoon, when the sun came out, we were all able to take a step back and see what we had achieved, and it was genuinely a really proud moment for all of us. With the added incentive of knowing how much joy the children get from the garden, it was a very satisfying day and a great way for us all to bond outside of work.

I think we all agreed we’ll definitely do it again, so if anyone out there likes the sound of this and fancies getting involved, contact the CSR Team. Trees for Cities are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers because we just know that wasn’t the only chalk boulder out there and there are many more valuable green spaces that could do with a bit of TLC…

Restoring a secret garden