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Land Rover, Official Vehicle of The British & Irish Lions, and of the Springboks, has announced an extension of its community Hope Gardens initiative in the Western Cape, to celebrate the current Castle Lions Series between The Lions and the Springboks. 

Land Rover Hope Gardens are long-lasting initiatives intended to uplift communities, not only with a continuous supply of fresh produce, but also agricultural and environmental education. The latest Hope Garden project was headed up by former Springbok Rugby World Cup winner Bryan Habana and Zelda La Grange, former Private Secretary to Nelson Mandela. 

This new Land Rover Hope Garden has been established at Greyton Community School near Hermanus, in the Western Cape. The garden was designed by a local landscaper and includes the equipment and materials to help grow the vegetables, fruit and nut trees that will provide food to the Greyton community. It will also be used by pupils to learn about gardening and environmental science.

As part of the activity, filmed with strict adherence to current Covid regulations, Habana and La Grange were joined by former British & Irish Lions player Brad Barritt, who was born and lives in South Africa, as well as AnneLee Murray who was the PR Manager of the Springboks for over 20 years. In the film both talk about their first-hand experiences of being involved in a Lions Tour, as well as the importance and responsibility of The Lions to create a legacy as part of each Tour.

The film has been released to coincide with Mandela Day – an annual celebration in honour of Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Every year on Mandela day, South African citizens are called on to devote 67 minutes of their time to community service, symbolising the 67 years that the late Nelson Mandela spent fighting for social justice. 

Land Rover rugby ambassador Bryan Habana said: “Being South African I know just how special a Lions Tour is in that it only happens once every twelve years here in South Africa. For me it was an honour to play against them in 2009 in South Africa, and an experience that in so many ways was never matched in terms of my career. But as special as a Lions Series is, it is the legacy that gets left behind when the Lions return home that is so crucial, and because of the restrictions in place this year, it’s just not possible. I was, however, privileged to be tasked by Land Rover (and some of its ambassadors from within the Lions camp) to help ensure something could still be done to help make a difference here in South Africa.”

Speaking on her visit to the Land Rover Hope Garden, Zelda La Grange, said: “Madiba’s legacy was simple. He tried to change or touch one person’s life every day and through that he had this ripple effect that meant he changed the world. It’s not just what the community will physically get from the garden, and the education that the children will have from being involved, but it’s also the inspiration that comes from someone like Bryan Habana being involved that will hopefully inspire them to go on and want to make a difference in their lives and give back to their local community.”

Habana continues: “This Tour is unfortunately very different - there are no fans, but we know how important the legacy is that The Lions as well as Land Rover would love to leave behind. This is the start of an incredible long-lasting project that we will be able to look back on in twelve years’ time. We can’t always do everything, but we can at least do something, and a legacy project like the Land Rover Hope Garden might be small, but hopefully these 87 kids who do get inspired can go on to be that ripple effect that Nelson Mandela was so passionate about – the more ripples we get, the bigger the wave of change will be.” 

Laura Wood, Head of Global PR Brand & Partnerships, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Using the platform offered by our international rugby partnerships to help make a positive impact on the broader community has been a key part of our investment in rugby that dates back twenty years. This Castle Lions Series in South Africa may be very different for the players and the fans back in the UK and in South Africa, but Land Rover wanted to ensure that despite the restrictions, it was still possible to make a difference for the next twelve years – and beyond. The Land Rover Hope Garden in Greyton will ensure that in the coming months and years, the project will continue to thrive, meaning that the Lions Tour will be remembered and benefit hundreds of people in the future, as well as hopefully inspiring the pupils themselves to make a difference.” 

This new Hope Garden in the Western Cape is in addition to another built by Land Rover in partnership with the South African Red Cross in Thembisa in Gauteng in 2018. Land Rover donated seedlings, vegetable plants, gardening equipment, fencing and shade cloth to the Thembisa Hope Garden, while a full irrigation system was installed to ensure the veggies stay properly hydrated. A small office and kitchen where garden staff prepare meals and soups to feed the community was equipped with kitchen utensils, tables and chairs, and local children were taught the basics of gardening.