Garden provides hope for domestic violence victim

Lara Stunton, Alastair MacGregor and Monica Palmer in the courtyard.  Picture: Andrew Ritchie         www.communitypix.com.au   d444556
Lara Stunton, Alastair MacGregor and Monica Palmer in the courtyard. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au d444556

WHEN Monica Palmer found out about a violent attack on her school friend Sarah Kelly, she had to do what she could to help.

Ms Palmer said she had not realised Ms Kelly had been a victim of domestic violence for many years.

“I received a call from her not long after the incident and she explained what happened and I was in shock,” Ms Palmer said.

“A friend had been suffering in silence for years and I was none the wiser.

“It made me wonder, if this was happening to Sarah and I had no idea, how many other people is this happening to?”

The Scarborough-based landscape designer said she turned her feeling of helplessness into action and designed a new garden for Ms Kelly and her two sons.

“Earlier this year, Sarah and her boys moved into a new home which is much smaller than their previous family home,” Ms Palmer said.

“The courtyard was bare and barren, with nowhere to sit and relax with friends.”

Ms Palmer recruited local businesses to help make the garden a reality, including Ellenby Tree Farm owner Brett Wood-roffe, who also rescued Ms Kelly on the day she was attacked by her partner.

“I could see her crumpled up in the back of their boat and I could see her face was swollen,” Mr Woodroffe said.

“She looked like she’d done `10 rounds in a boxing ring.

“I said ‘Sarah you’re not going home with your husband you’re going home in an ambulance’.”

Mr Woodroffe said Ms Kelly’s husband behaved in a strange and aggressive manner.

“He said he hit her regularly and he was just going about his business like nothing had happened and like it was a normal Friday afternoon,” he said.

“We wanted to jump in the boat and give him a taste of his own medicine but we just knew that would solve nothing and would not help Sarah at all.

“The best thing was to protect her and make sure she was safe until help arrived.”

Mr Woodroffe said he was happy to donate plants for the garden from his tree farm.

Lara Stunton, from Lahaus Creative Studio, and Alastair MacGregor, from Urban Journey landscape architects, are also donating their time and products.