Ringo Starr Brings Flower Power to WaterAid's Chelsea Garden

25/05/2012 12:40 BST | Updated 24/07/2012 10:12 BST

A Beatle is a gardener's best friend after all, as Ringo Starr paid us the amazing honour of opening the 'Herbert Smith Garden for WaterAid' at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012 on Monday.

The Beatles legend has been a WaterAid supporter since 2003, and understands better than most the impact that a lack of safe drinking water and sanitation has, on those without it, around the world.

Despite his long standing relationship with us, Ringo remains shocked that 4,000 children die needlessly every day because of diarrhoeal diseases brought about in large part because of a lack of these essential life giving services.

With 783 million people lacking safe drinking water and a staggering 2.5 billion without adequate sanitation, Ringo's high profile support at such a prominent event is essential in getting our messages out to new audiences.

We were also visited by other high profile celebrities who took the opportunity to have a go on our hand pump - the most poignant feature of the garden - along with the composting latrine and the 'tippy tap' hand-washing point.

The insatiable Ricky Gervais, who just seems to be able to bring fun and laughter to any situation, couldn't resist our garden's charms, while the incredible actor, John Hurt also popped down. Even Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen risked getting his immaculate suit dirty as he explored the garden and finally rinsed his hands under the 'tippy tap' next to the composting latrine. It was wonderful to spend time with everyone who came by.

This was the third time that WaterAid has been involved with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and we were delighted with the silver medal-winning garden that Patricia Thirion and Janet Honour created for us. Patricia and Janet have now designed a garden for Chelsea four times. They have done a wonderful job creating a garden that really speaks volumes about our work and brings our vision to life.

The theme of the 'Herbert Smith Garden for WaterAid' is:

  • Water brings change, life and hope.
  • Water is precious and needs careful and sustained attention.
  • Water management needs to be environmentally and ecologically driven to maintain harmony with the earth.

Although the garden is evocative of Africa, it is intended to be a representative example of the work carried out by WaterAid in 27 countries globally, from Sierra Leone across to Papua New Guinea, whether in an urban or rural setting - wherever there is a lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

The Garden is in the shape of a droplet of water, the symbol and heart of WaterAid. This shape forms the basis of the garden's design. At the point where the droplet begins, stands a water pump which marks the starting point of a transformational chain of events. The pump is emblematic of the conduit that connects the earth to all that lives on the earth.

At the front of the Garden is scrubland with a few tufts of grass and hardy flowers, then grasses interwoven with masses of brightly coloured flowers. At the far corner of the garden stands a simple hut with a thatched conical roof housing a composting latrine.

Sanitation is a fundamental element of WaterAid's work. The provision of such a simple yet essential facility, not only gives privacy and dignity, but also does not contaminate the precious water supply. WaterAid's educative role in hygiene is illustrated in the garden by the 'Tippy tap' - a hand-washing station, the use of which assists in reducing the risk of spreading disease.

157,000 people will visit the flower show this year, and we really do encourage you to stop by and take the chance to see the wonderful Garden. We are also running a special fundraising campaign around the show. You can also give the gift of water by texting 'SEEDS' to 70007 to donate £5 to WaterAid's vital work and receive a free pack of African daisy seeds!*

Text messages cost £5 plus your standard network message charge, with a minimum of £4.95 going to support WaterAid's vital work. WaterAid will call you back within one week to ask you for the correct address to send your seeds to.

*This donation path is open to UK residents only, but you can also learn more about WaterAid and other ways of donating by visiting