Work has begun on a unique veterans' community garden, built by the military community for the military community.

The June Best Sanctuary Garden is being constructed at the Gordon Messenger Centre (GMC), opposite the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines in Lympstone.

Over seven non-consecutive days in July, at least 130 volunteers will work in shifts on the project.

These volunteers include serving and former Armed Forces members, their colleagues, friends and their children.

The Armed Forces Charity, SSAFA Devon, is sponsoring the build, made possible through a generous legacy gift donated by former SSAFA Devon volunteer, June Best in 2022.

The work supports the Centre's mission to enhance the welfare of tri-service Armed Forces personnel, former servicemen and women, and their families.

This project is the first of its kind in the UK and will provide a tranquil and therapeutic space fostering relaxation, connection and healing.

Volunteers include serving and former Armed Forces members, their colleagues, friends and their enthusiastic childrenVolunteers include serving and former Armed Forces members, their colleagues, friends and their enthusiastic children (Image: Fran McElhone/Splash Projects)

Former Wren ( Women's Royal Naval Service), Bex Pearson, said: "I was at a stage of my life where I’d begun to feel a bit lost, so knocked on the door of one day and was absolutely gob smacked at the facilities here.

"Coming up here has given me a whole new lease of life. And the garden will enhance that sense of wellbeing."

Ms Pearson continued by saying that being amongst other veterans means so much to her.

She said: "It was almost like 'coming home'; finding that missing piece of the jigsaw that I needed to be back among Forces’ people."

Bex PearsonBex Pearson (Image: Fran McElhone/Splash Projects)

The garden is a design and delivery project of Splash Projects, an international community development company based in Exmouth.

The company's designers have worked hand-in-hand with a committee of veterans to create a garden that is multifunctional and wheelchair-accessible.

It will boast sensory elements such as a fire area, a water feature, a growing garden and ample seating.

In addition, the project offers volunteers an opportunity to learn new skills, give back to their community and create a legacy while cultivating camaraderie.

The significant project became possible thanks to the RMA-The Royal Marines Charity, which donated a generous legacy gift from a former Royal Marine through the Tavistock Freemasons/Sanctuary Lodge.

Following the project's announcement earlier this year, various businesses in the South West have offered their support.

Vistry Group has made a significant contribution having chosen the SSAFA as its charity of the year.

The South West region is also supporting the project by providing a team of volunteers for the build.

They have also secured support from suppliers and donated resources free of charge.

Groundworks for the project are currently ongoing, carried out voluntarily by Champion Groundworks, all paving the way for construction to start in mid-July.