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Sharing #fragileXtraordinary achievements!

At our Stirling Conference, held on Saturday 21st May, we were delighted to hear from individuals and family members sharing their experiences of obtaining voluntary work or employment. 


We heard from Mum, Liz Hopkins, who told the story of son David, and was especially excited to share with us his great work with Parklea 'Branching Out' in Port Glasgow, to gain his Caley Grow and Learn 'Roots' Award. 


Below, we share an interview with David, which appeared in the spring edition of the Grow and Learn newsletter. 


Grow and Learn Projects and Participants in the Spotlight

Tell me all about your gardening work?

I am weeding, cutting the grass, watering plants, checking tomatoes and peppers in the Summer. It's better to grow tomatoes and peppers in pots instead of grow bags. I feed them, water them, and check that the tomatoes don't have black rot. It's always important to check for pests and diseases. Last year Robert forgot to close the glasshouse door one Summer and rabbits got in and ate some of our plants!

What do you like best about being here?
Its good fun! I love splitting the logs for the biomass boiler, cutting the grass and health and safety is important to me too.

What do you not like to do in the garden?
Weeding, it can be hard at times, but I do it anyway.

What new skills have you learned?
Health and Safety tips like not running with the trolley.


Have you made new friends?
Yes, Kieran and Aldo.

When you complete Grow and Learn, what would you like to do next?
I would like to still garden here at Parklea, and help other people garden too.

Do you garden at home?
Yes, I cut the grass and help my neighbours. I also helped my dad to plant bulbs, vegetables and flowers.

Do you share your gardening skills with other people?
Yes, I’ve taught my dad how to weed properly. I do have to keep an eye on him though. At Parklea, I’ve helped Kieran and Archie to build a path made from bricks. I’ve helped Kieran cut holly for the Christmas wreaths. I help Robert with everything including tidying up at the end of the day. I’ve helped Sharon improve the soil in the glasshouse too.

Would you recommend gardening to other people?
Yes everybody should do it.

Grow and Learn Personal Goals
David is making great progress achieving one of his goals, which is to travel more independently. He now travels from his home on the train to Port Glasgow where staff from Parklea pick him up and take him to the project. David is also currently working towards travelling independently to Paisley by train, where he attends college twice a week.

David is undoubtedly one of life’s enthusiastic, talented gardeners, he is an ambitious young man with many gardening skills and abilities. I’m looking forward to hearing how David progresses with his award and what his plans for the future may be. Jean Gavin CALEY Grow and Learn Development Worker

David Hopkins, ‘Parklea, Branching Out’


Earlier this year, I popped into Parklea ‘Branching Out’ in Port Glasgow. 


Established in 1997, Parklea uses horticulture as a vehicle to provide a variety of different training, work experience and supported employment opportunities for a wide variety of people with varying abilities and levels of support needs.

While I was there, I caught up with David Hopkins a young man who is working toward his Grow and Learn ‘Roots’ award. Below is a short transcript of our conversation, which I am sure you will enjoy reading.

If you would like to find out more about The Caley Grow and Learn Award please e-mail The organisation would be pleased to provide information about the award, and signpost people to local gardening projects who are currently delivering Grow & Learn. Please also visit for more information. 


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