1 July 2021

Dame Esther Rantzen DBE enjoyed a belated celebration of her 80th birthday on Sunday (27 June) surrounded by supporters at Furzey Gardens in Hampshire.

With the summer rain holding off for much of the day, the TV presenter, journalist and charity campaigner spent a blissful afternoon in the tranquil New Forest gardens with VIPs including TV gardener Charlie Dimmock.

The birthday event was run to help local charity Minstead Trust to continue supporting hundreds of people with learning disabilities across the south of England. Attendees included Lord and Lady Montagu, Deputy Lord Lieutenant and Minstead Trust Patron Joy Carter, Minstead Trust Chair Elizabeth Selby and Tim Selwood, founder of Minstead Trust.

Dame Esther was forced to postpone her 80th birthday celebrations last year due to Covid-19. So the chance to wander along Furzey’s winding paths, listen to music provided by the Michelmersh Silver Band and take afternoon tea was a long-awaited treat. It was a special occasion for the band as it marked the first time they have been able to perform since the start of the pandemic.

Dame Esther being presented with her birthday cake / With Tim Selwood (Trust founder) and Charlie Dimmock

Furzey Gardens is a tranquil woodland garden nestled deep in the New Forest National Park. The gardens are run by Minstead Trust and provide support and work experience for people with learning disabilities. Guests at the event had the opportunity to meet people supported by the Trust, as well as the Head Gardener, Pete White.

Dame Esther Rantzen DBE, said: ‘Furzey Gardens is one of the jewels in Hampshire that not enough people know about and cherish, so I was thrilled to be able to celebrate my birthday there and introduce my friends to the fantastic work being done there.

‘Also the chocolate cake made my Minstead Trust chef Andy was the best I’ve ever eaten (better even than the cake at Buckingham Palace garden parties). And it was lovely to catch up with the wonderful Charlie Dimmock whom I haven’t seen since she joined my husband and me on our honeymoon.’

The birthday event offered supporters a chance to learn more about Furzey Gardens’ centenary in 2022 and donate towards the target of £500,000. To find out more or support the centenary go to www.minsteadtrust.org.uk/furzey-centenary

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