Jeremy Irons Launches Autism at Kingwood Gardening Project

From the Henley Herald:

Acclaimed British actor, Jeremy Irons officially launched the Autism at Kingwood‘s new gardening project at the charity’s Watermans allotment this morning.

Jeremy Irons said, “I’m delighted to be here.  When I say that I mean I’m never happier than to be surrounded by veg, flowers, peace, tranquillity, bees, birds and butterflies.  When we locked down like everyone my schedule fell apart. When I crossed out engagements in my diary, my heart lifted a little bit when I found myself free.  Where was I?  I was always in the garden.  I suspect being autistic is a bit like I felt on the first day in lockdown x 100.  If I found comfort going and sitting in the garden pottering and thinking a lot, occasionally sweeping, pruning and digging then how must it feel for autistic people? I think its a wonderful thing you’ve done here.  As a long-standing Patron on Autism at Kingwood, I know how hard they work to provide real added value to the lives of autistic adults. This allotment is an opportunity to have quiet, meaningful occupation in a safe place.  It’s an essential branch to the work. I’m probably going to embarrass myself with trying to cut the ribbon with these sheers.  I’ve looked at them and they couldn’t cut a daisy!  I’ve got some scissors here though if they don’t work.”

Autism at Kingwood was set up by entrepreneur and local resident Dame Stephanie Shirley. Dame Stephanie says: “I founded Autism at Kingwood in 1994 to support my autistic son Giles, taking him out an institutional environment and into a house in the village of Kingwood Common, just outside Henley. He was supported by kind and caring support workers, who enabled him to make his own decisions about his life.

The charity has retained its caring approach and perseveres with highly vulnerable clients – some straight from long-stay hospitals – and sometimes where other services have given up. During Covid-19, I was particularly impressed by many of the staff who cancelled their holidays, to maintain consistent support for those they
support. I am delighted to see the launch of this allotment project in Henley; people will be able to enjoy a peaceful environment, whilst learning skills and enjoying the fruits of their labour – quite literally!”