Victim's project to help Wiganers' mental health

A Wigan dad-to-be who received life-changing injuries after being brutally attacked by a stranger, is launching a community planting project to help borough residents battle mental health problems.
Mark Collier at the greenhouseMark Collier at the greenhouse
Mark Collier at the greenhouse

Mark Collier, 29, is in the process of setting up a community development project called “The Bloomin’ Nursery” - an idea which he developed while recovering from a bleed on the brain.

The former landscape gardener, who was out with friends in Ashton when he was knocked unconscious by a thug in an unprovoked assault, has been struggling after losing his job following the incident.

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Mark, who is expecting his first child with fiancee Hayley Melling, has spent the past eight months trying to rebuild his life following the attack, which left him hospitalised with serious head injuries.

Following this, Mark was unable to drive due to persistent dizziness and was eventually forced to give up his business, leaving him struggling financially and emotionally.

During his long road to recovery, Mark began planting hundreds and thousands of seedlings which he kept in a greenhouse given to him as a present.

“It’s kept me active and most of all it’s been mentally challenging,” he said. “I’m not very good at just sitting on the couch.

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“It was my mum’s idea, I was a gardener anyway and she has always said that when she retires she would love to work for a nursery.

“I think it’s a really good way to combat mental health problems. There’s all sorts of medication for depression but doing this, I didn’t need that anymore.”

The idea of turning the nursery into a project for the community quickly grew into a fully-fledged plan, for which Mark has received support from Wigan Council, Wigan Borough in Bloom and Golborne in Bloom.

Mark even plans to open his own “spud hut” where customers can sample jacket potatoes grown by his own hand.

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“I am also in talks with a few schools,” he said. “The children would be coming down and growing their own plants. I think it can really help others.”

Mark has met with town hall officials to discuss potential future sites.

He added: “It will start in Golborne but I’m hoping to get as many as possible. I want to reach as many communities as I can.”