At The Table With... Chelsea Pensioner Barbara Whilds

Q & A

At The Table With... Chelsea Pensioner Barbara Whilds

Chelsea Flower Show is one of our most favourite events - a chance to see lots of beautiful gardens and displays, meet our wonderful customers and catch up with the delightful Chelsea Pensioners. Ahead of the show we caught up with Barbara to talk about her love for gardening and all about being a Chelsea Pensioner. 

This year we are so pleased to announce that we have partnered exclusively with The Royal Hospital Chelsea on our Chelsea Flower Show collection, which includes a Mug, Tea Towel, Serving Tray and limited-edition Print hand signed by Sophie - 10% of net sales from the collection being donated to the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Chelsea Flower Show is held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which is the home of the iconic veterans of the British Army, the Chelsea Pensioners. It offers accommodation, comradeship, and the highest standards of care in recognition of the loyal service they have given to the nation. Some 300 Army veterans, both men and women, live at the Royal Hospital today. 

At The Table With... Chelsea Pensioner Barbara Whilds

Image Credit: Royal Hospital Chelsea

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

I am 79 years old and have been a Chelsea Pensioner for thirteen years.

How long did you serve in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps?

I served for nine years in the Q.A.R.A.N.C.

What does being a Chelsea Pensioner mean to you?

It was one of the better decisions I have made in my life. The Royal Hospital has been wonderful for me.

We understand you love gardening – what are you looking forward to growing this year?

Mostly I grow fruit, so my currants, gooseberries, raspberries and vines are all well established. But every year I grow tomatoes, some beans and salad ingredients.

When did you first discover your love for gardening?

I didn't have a garden till I left the Army, and then I had a smallholding – so it was a natural progression to grow feed for my stock and myself.

Can you share your top tips for a beginner gardener?

If you are just starting it is important to prepare, weed and feed the soil. I prefer an organic garden and do not use chemicals. Above all a gardener needs patience!

The Royal Hospital Chelsea is home to the renowned Chelsea Flower Show – will you be attending the show this year, if so what's your favourite part?

Yes. At the Flower Show I always make for the veg section – though the flowers are always eye-catching and it is a smashing atmosphere.

Will you be coming to visit the Sophie Allport stand? We’d love to hear what your favourite Sophie Allport design is…

I shall certainly check out the Sophie Allport stand. I find the bee design very attractive. 


Have you attended Chelsea Flower Show before? Let us know what you love most and if you're attending this year, pop by and say hello to our friendly team!

1 comment

  • I am a great fan of all your products. I think the designs are delightful. Had an idea strawberry and Robbins for Christmas. Lots of people love your strawberries and Robbins are always very popular. Just a thought. Sending you best wishes for Christmas

    Sarah Raines on

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