A wealthy pensioner's bequest has enabled Cheshire East Council to deliver a much-needed garden haven for users of two adjoining day-care centres.
Managers and senior officers were left speechless when they learnt of the bequest to the Redesmere and Lindow day-care centres in Handforth, by a Wilmslow resident with no known connection to the council's respite service.
Raymond Crockett left more than a £1m to five charities, plus the Redesmere and Lindow in his will. He died in October 2014, aged 86, after gifting more than £185,000 to the service so that dementia care and adults with learning disabilities could enjoy beautifully landscaped gardens, including a sensory garden, in the grounds of the building in Redesmere Road.
Steve Edge, manager of the Redesmere, said: "I opened a letter in the morning's mail and it was from Lloyds Bank in Exeter, telling me we had been left £185,790.84. I couldn't believe it.
"It really was an extremely pleasant surprise and a bit of a shock. This was an extremely generous act.
"We didn't know Mr Crockett and we have no records to show that he, or his late wife, ever used the centre. We are mystified as to why he left such a large sum of money to us but we are extremely grateful. He was clearly a very generous man and there must have been something that prompted him to name us in his will.
"We would love to find out more about him. We asked the service users and staff how they would like to see the money spent and this is the project they chose.
"The gardens will do so much to enhance the building here and give our day residents somewhere to enjoy outdoors in restful and colourful surroundings."
Contractors have been working throughout the summer to create three individual gardens for both the Lindow and the Redesmere, constructing easily accessed pathways for wheelchair users and people with walking difficulties.
Two water features, a rockery, picnic area, gazebo with seating area, pergola, potting shed and greenhouse have all been installed for the enjoyment and relaxation of service users and relatives. A sensory garden features lavender, clematis, sweetpeas, rosemary and aloe vera.
Councillor Laura Jeuda, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: "The gardens will be a lasting legacy to the generosity of a local man who, sadly, we never came to know.
"It is unfortunate we are unable to express our thanks to the late Mr Crockett. His generosity, and the manner in which we have utilised the gift, will mean so much to our residents and staff at the centre.
"We hope they will bring a great deal of joy and contentment to our service users for many years to come."
The gardens will be officially opened by the mayor of Cheshire East, Councillor Barry Burkhill, at a ceremony on Thursday, 5th September.