A CHARMING country cottage garden nestling in an enchanting part of the Worcestershire countryside with views to the Abberley Hills has broken its own records this year and raised more than £3,500 for charity – a 250 per cent increase on its previous highest total.

Pear Tree Cottage at Wichenford, near Worcester, is owned by Pam and Alistair Thompson, who have been opening it to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) for five years.

Last year the open days and arranged visits brought in a total of £1,450 for the NGS charities but this year the final event alone – an open afternoon and twilight event on Bank Holiday Monday August 28 – smashed that figure by raising £2,014.

Pam, a former West Mercia Police officer and passionate gardener, said more than 300 visitors turned up to the final open garden event – exceeding all expectations.

Visitors had to negotiate a network of country lanes, a road closure, diversions and road works, but despite all this still turned up in their droves, she said.

Tea and cakes and a free glass of wine with entry in the evening were available on this occasion. “They ate every crumb of every cake and we had to raid our own personal wine stock to meet the demand for extra drinks, which made an additional £191 in donations for the charities. Half way through the event we had to go and buy more milk. It had to be seen to be believed.”

She said her helpers in the kitchen, some of whom had never helped before, did a fantastic job as several members of the usual team were unavailable. “It was a scratch team. We had to put out a bit of an SOS call for helpers.

“One of my friends who comes along to offer a bit of moral support ended up washing up in the kitchen non-stop for three hours,” said Pam. “Talk about all hands on deck!

“Ladies who said they would help for two hours found that two hours turned into four but they just kept going. I was eternally grateful for these helpers who stopped on and did their bit.

“I am absolutely thrilled with the way it all went and the number of visitors. I could not be more pleased. I just wish there was some way of predicting the numbers.” One of the previous rain-affected August Bank Holiday events produced just 17 visitors.

Pear Tree Cottage is known for a number of unusual, quirky and humorous features including an original red telephone box – complete with working Bakelite phone – its animal shaped oil tank sculptures, a marine salvaged old buoy, a stone cairn monument marking the 70th anniversary of VE Day and a down-lit well with an original Worcester-made “Pumpy” Thomas pump.

One of the garden buildings, which arrived as “a pile of junk” has reached the finals of this year’s Channel 4 Shed of the Year competition to be announced in two weeks. Pam is an avid recycling enthusiast and couldn’t resist the challenge.

To find out more about Pear Tree Cottage visit http://www.peartreecottage.me/ and for more information about the National Gardens Scheme visit https://www.ngs.org.uk/

The funds raised through NGS open events go to a range of charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, carerstrust, The Queen’s Nursing Institute, Perennial; MS Society and The National Autistic Society.