Torwood Gardens brought back to life - and business booms for Santa

Torbay Weekly

TORQUAY’S Torwood Gardens has just been awarded a community grant of £150 to buy new gardening tools and the Rotary Club of Torquay is now setting up a Friends of Torwood Gardens group.

Torquay Rotarian Maureen MacDonald, professional gardener Rory Levy and keen gardener Martin Tucker regularly tend the gardens, together with occasional support from other members.

Whilst there, they have received much support and thanks from local residents who have also provided plants and much-needed water. Other locals now regularly check the area to discourage anti-social behaviour and drug taking which had blighted the area for many years.

Rotarian Graham Doodson kindly recounted the history of these gardens and how Rotary became involved with its upkeep. He said: “In the mid-1970s, the Royal National Institute for the Blind had a home on Middle Lincombe Drive. The people who lived there would often walk through and enjoy Torwood Gardens. This came to the notice of Lance Johnson, the 1976 President of Torquay Rotary Club and Torquay’s Head Postmaster, who instigated the laying out of a sensory garden so that unsighted people walking past could enjoy the smell and touch of a range of plants. Over time, the sensory garden became neglected and overgrown. That is until 2019, when a member of Torquay Rotary, Maureen MacDonald, was strolling past the garden and spotted a plaque that described how the sensory garden had been created some 43 years earlier.
“She asked a club member, and professional gardener, Rory Levy, to meet there to see if the sensory gardens could be brought back to their former glory. He thought that they could and,  together with other members of Torquay Rotary, they cleared the weeds and prepared for planting. Funding for the re-planting was donated by individual club members. In September 2020, a small celebration was held following the planting of several lavendars and many other sensory plants and shrubs. Sadly, some of the original plants were stolen but these have been replaced and are now blooming.”
Looking to the future, the club is planning to have the previously cancelled centenary celebrations in the gardens next June at the same time as the Queen’s Platinum Anniversary.

For more information about Torquay Rotary’s work, visit

Plenty of festive spirit at Santa’s Grotto
The popular Fleet Walk grotto is really buzzing and tickets have almost sold out, leaving the elves and Santa in high spirits.

This charity grotto is run totally by volunteers from Sunrise and Tormohun Rotary Clubs, with additional help from Torquay Ladies Circle and members of SPACE – Launching Futures, a community service for adults with learning difficulties and autism.

Tickets are available in advance online and there only a few left. Visit or Facebook @fleetwalkgrotto.

Christmas pudding donations
Members of Paignton Rotary have donated Christmas puddings to the Paignton Community Larder who will give them to those who are in most need over the festive period.
Rotarians Marion and John Page have been the driving force behind this campaign and each year collect an average of 100 puddings of varying sizes. Paignton has joined forces with Preston Rotary Club to give much-needed support to the Community Larder.