I WAS honoured last week to open the new sensory garden at Fiennes House, in Wellington, a purpose-built residential home for adults with learning disabilities, complex needs and often challenging behaviour.

During my years working on gardening programmes, I filmed many garden projects designed to help people with learning difficulties and realised how beneficial being outside, watching the seasons, smelling the flowers and hearing the birdsong can be.

The garden at Fiennes House is also a triumph of volunteer effort, with input from the local Rotary Club, staff from the Co-op doing community hours, and offenders on their community payback scheme.

This sensory garden will be well used both by residents and the many visitors, so well done to everyone involved.

This week, I am holding a health and wellbeing event in Parliament, bringing together health and environmental stakeholders with a view to facilitating both these sectors to work together on projects such as the Fiennes House sensory garden for mutual benefit.

Still on health, the Government’s commitment to an extra £600m a week in a new five year £20bn settlement for our precious NHS to mark its 70th anniversary is welcome.

In Somerset, with its ageing population and multiple health issues, getting the model right and using extra funding wisely will be the key.

The £79m already granted for the new theatres at Musgrove highlights that Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, is aware of the area’s health concerns and I was pleased to play my part in securing this funding.

However, it’s beholden on the health service itself to cut waste.

Additional funding for our health service is only possible through careful balancing of the books, growing the economy and creating trade opportunities.

I am delighted that the workshop I held recently for Somerset cider and beer producers is producing some potential leads. Just what we need to expand our local economy.