ITV transforms garden into safe haven for visually impaired children

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ITV's Love Your Garden has given siblings Harvey and Megan Webb a safe place to play thanks to a highly specified backyard renovation.

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Harvey, four and his younger sister Megan, aged one, were nominated by the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) to receive a garden makeover on the show to suit their additional needs.

The two children, who attend RLSB’s specialist Dalton House nursery in Sevenoaks, Kent, were featured on the programme on Tuesday 6 August.

Harvey and Megan suffer from a rare condition called achromotopsia, which makes their eyes painfully sensitive to sunlight and affects the clarity of their vision. The genetic disorder meant that parents Louise and Andy had been nervous about letting the children play in the garden.

But, under the direction of RLSB’s head of early years, Maggie Bindon, show presenter Alan Titchmarsh designed a safe space with a shaded pergola area, a living wall, sand and water pits and smooth surfaces to reduce the danger of tripping.

Louise Webb said, ‘Before, I always had to make sure that Harvey was in a shaded area so I couldn’t leave him.

‘Now I feel confident to leave him to his own devices if I want to do the washing up or if Megan is asleep because the shaded pergola means that he is able to navigate his way to the sand pit at the end of the garden out of the sunshine.’

The living wall has given the children, whose vision is likened to watching a fuzzy black and white TV set, a tactile facet to the garden, and Louise said that Harvey enjoys the smell of the mint growing between the pavement slabs.

The family were also provided with a new set of auditory toys and ornaments, including talking tortoises and balls with bells so that the children can follow the sound path.

Alan Titchmarsh even created a designated area for the parents to relax together.

Ms Webb said that they were ‘over the moon’ to be selected for the show and grateful to RLSB for the nomination.

‘They do so much for us anyway so we were amazed that they had thought of this too. They have done us a huge favour and I never have anything but brilliant things to say about them.'

Alan Titchmarsh commented,  ‘It’s clear that Andy and Louise are determined that their children should have as normal an upbringing as possible. But there’s nowhere outdoors that those children can go and feel free yet safe. This garden has got to be that place.’

Maggie Bindon said that the Love Your Garden makeover had been a ‘tremendous help’ for the family thanks to the smooth surfaces and contrasting tones.

She said that RLSB chose to nominate the Webb family for the ITV programme because it was becoming obvious that Harvey’s confidence was suffering due to the hazards posed to him out in the open.

‘We knew the children’s issues well and at Harvey’s nursery we help them to develop the confidence to be independent. Harvey is at the age now where he wants to explore on his own and we wanted him to be able to do this at home as well as at nursery.

‘One place that children should be safe is in their own back garden.’

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