Moderator formally opens community garden inspired by the sea

L-R - sculptor Debbie Ryan, the Rev Dennis Rose, Anya Forster of Bervie School Gardening Club, Marion Morrison, Dr Morrison and Tom Campbell.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has formally opened a community garden celebrating the "voyage of life" with a dramatic lighthouse as its centrepiece.

The Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison and his wife Marion visited the site beside Bervie Church in Inverbervie near Montrose yesterday to view a series of public artworks and planted a commemorative tree.

The manse garden project, which reflects Bervie's close connection to the sea, was spearheaded by church volunteers who set up a community organisation to improve the area.

The 'Brighter Bervie' group's efforts were recognised by the ;BBC's Beechgrove Garden programme which selected it as the only community garden to be featured last year.

Dr Morrison said: "It was a tremendous pleasure to visit the Bervie garden, which is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when the church and the community work together to produce something of real and lasting value.

"Brighter Bervie have created a beautiful garden, but it is also far more than that.

"With its theme, Voyage of Life, the garden is a reminder of our journey here on earth and a place where you are encouraged to reflect on your spiritual journey and the message of life and love that we find within the Gospel.

"Whether you are weeding, planting or simply enjoying the open air, I can't think of a better place to spend an afternoon."

The garden was designed by Julian Dowle, a nationally recognised designer who has won multiple gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show.

He became involved in the project after Tom Campbell, a Kirk member who helped set up Brighter Bervie, and his wife Liz visited a garden he'd designed for the Salvation Army.

Around 50 people helped bring the project to life.

Mr Campbell said it was an "honour" to receive the Moderator and his wife.

The retired offshore engineer said: " Our community efforts to create the Voyage of Life garden with its stunning Lighthouse Sculpture, which is effectively a 'pocket park' right in the heart of our Royal Burgh, were featured last year on the popular Beechgrove Garden TV series," he added.

"When people walk round the garden they begin with a launch a slipway, moving into an outfitting basin before they leave safety and head out into the sea to negotiate the rocks and waves.

"All the time they are guided by the sculpture of a lighthouse before they make it to the harbour at the end.

"We hope it'll make people think of their own voyage in life, where they are going and who is guiding them through it."

Dr Morrison and his wife were presented with bouquets of flowers from Bervie School Gardening Club.

The visit coincided with the imminent retiral of minister the Rev Dennis Rose, who will perform his last christening in April.

Mr Campbell said: "Looking ahead to our upcoming season, we have a number of jobs to complete from last year when so many great things happened.

"This year, in addition to maintaining the gardens and planters which have already been successfully set-up, including the RNLI Flag feature and the Seafront Area complete with colourful Crown Sculpture, we plan to install the Bervie Coat of Arms Sculpture at the top of the Haugh Braes and to sow a wild flower meadow in Westpark.

"For Geocaching enthusiasts, we've installed Geocaches at each of our sites in Bervie so there's now an interesting trail to explore."

Fresh work begins on the garden on March 1 and the group are looking for more volunteers.