Tommy Walsh picks up tools for WaterAid at Chelsea Flower Show

Celebrity builder Tommy Walsh, of BBC TV's Ground Force fame, is lending his tricks of the trade to WaterAid this spring.

16 Apr 2013

Ground Force guru Tommy Walsh is working with some Chelsea medal-winning garden designers to create a rainwater harvesting jar in their Indian-themed Artisan garden at this year’s centenary Chelsea Flower Show. Tommy will collaborate with Janet Honour and Patricia Thirion from A Touch of France Garden Design, and Ruperts Landscapes, to create the garden.

In 2001 Tommy helped the Ground Force team create a garden at a children’s home in New Dehli. Inspired to draw on this experience and show his support for WaterAid, Tommy offered to assist in the design and construction of the rainwater jar, part of the ambitious and eye-catching garden, which will be open to the public on 21 – 25 May 2013.

In India, over 93 million people are living without access to clean water. This year, the Herbert Smith Freehills garden for WaterAid at the Chelsea Flower Show is inspired by the charity’s work in areas of India that experience flooding. It highlights the transformation to people’s lives that can be brought about by access to clean water, improved hygiene and sanitation. In 2011/12 alone, WaterAid reached 536,000 people with water and 353,000 people with sanitation in India.

The garden's backdrop is a simple house on stilts with a veranda. The surrounding garden is ablaze with colour, with marigolds, roses and hanging garlands being grown and prepared for sale in the cut-flower industry, which is a big business in India. A timber plank walkway connects the tap stand area at the front of the garden to the house. Edging the garden are lush bamboos, rubber plants and Jasminum.

Tommy Walsh commented: "I am thrilled to be involved in WaterAid / Herbert Smith Freehills’ garden at the Chelsea Flower Show this year, and to contribute to the design and construction of the rainwater harvesting jar. This simple, but effective technology is essential in ensuring that water is available all year round, something that we all take for granted."

"I have seen for myself how simple solutions like this really do make a huge difference to everyday life and basic survival for families in India - and I hope that visitors to the garden will be inspired to support WaterAid."

The provision of safe, clean drinking water and rainwater harvesting are important elements of WaterAid's work in some areas of northern India.  These are represented in the garden by a working tap stand and a rainwater harvesting 'jar' that collects water in times of high rainfall, for use in times of water scarcity or when flooding has contaminated ground water sources.

Through WaterAid’s projects in India, more people are gaining access to safe, clean water, allowing industries such as horticulture to thrive, and empowering communities, particularly women and children, giving them more time to generate an income, for example, through creating market gardens.

  • Watch Tommy Walsh and Charlie Dimmock build a well for Africa:
Tommy Walsh and Charlie Dimmock