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Sheppey friends and family surprise Halfway man, Nigel Prettyjohns, who has Motor Neurone Disease, with a new garden

By Emma Grove

A team of volunteers carried out their own version of DIY SOS, transforming the garden of a grandad who has a serious illness.

Nigel Prettyjohns, of Holmside Avenue, Halfway, has motor neurone disease – a condition which attacks nerves in the brain and spinal chord and then starts to shut down the muscles in the body.

Unbeknown to the 53-year-old, his wife Leanne organised for a group of friends and family to carry out a garden makeover to make it easier for him to manage after a pal Karen Bussandra suggested they do something to help.

Nigel Prettyjohns in his transformed garden with some of those who made it possible

Mrs Prettyjohns gave them a budget and put friend Laurence Hunt in charge of the project.

For the last month, while the couple were on holiday in the USA, a dedicated team of 26 people have been working tirelessly in their spare time to improve things.

They spent the weeks cutting back severely overgrown foliage, shifting more than 200 bags of soil, breaking up an old patio and building a new one, tidying up the borders and laying bark. A pond was also installed as a surprise for Mrs Prettyjohns.

Nigel and Leanne Prettyjohns' garden before the makeover by friends and family

The couple, who returned from their holiday on Monday, are delighted with the results.

Mr Prettyjohns, who is warehouse manager for Abbotts in Sittingbourne, says he feels so grateful to the volunteers.

“When we came in I could see out the back door and thought it didn’t look like my garden,” he said.

“It was unbelievable to come back and see what they had done.

Another before shot of the Prettyjohns' garden in Halfway

“It’s something that is very important to me to be able to sit out there but I would keep looking and thinking what needs to be done, but now I can sit there and relax and just enjoy it.

“I would really like to say a big thank you to everyone.”

Mr Hunt said it was a fantastic atmosphere while they were all there working on the garden.

“It was a lot of hard work but it was enjoyable and everybody put in a lot of time and effort.

“It was great and I’d like to thank them all,” he said.

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