Keeping Count on our Feathered Friends

The Big Garden Birdwatch is back. This weekend will see thousands of people taking up their paper and pens to record feathery sightings and report their findings back to the RSPB.

The RSPB is urging both members and non-members to register and get involved in what is thought to be one of Britain’s largest wildlife surveys, which will run from Saturday 27th to Monday 29th January.

Young and old alike can document their findings and it couldn’t be easier to do…just register your interest at Big Garden Birdwatch, grab a pencil and start counting.  Your findings will help give this fantastic charity an extensive insight into the nature that surrounds us.


Help identify Britain’s Top Ten Garden Birds

The Big Garden Birdwatch takes just one hour of your time; just an hour to count the birds in your garden and report what you have seen and we’d like to encourage as many people as possible to get involved.

Your research doesn’t just help produce a list of Britain’s top ten garden birds, but it also helps the RSPB identify how bird populations have changed over the years.  For example, although the house sparrow was still top of the pops in 2017 we have lost almost half their population since the count began. And overall blue tit numbers may have risen by 20% but last year’s count indicated a 10% decrease in the number of blue tits, great tits and coal tits.

The RSPB tell us that the UK bird population is a great indicator of the health of our countryside, so it’s hugely important we report our findings, which provide the first steps to finding solutions.  It’s important to detect whether or not certain species have declined in popularity or – on a more positive note – if numbers are on the increase.

©Marguerite Rami

How did it all Begin

Initially launched as a winter activity for junior members, the Big Garden Birdwatch has evolved into an annual event with over half a million participants.  In 1979 the RSPB announced a new children’s initiative to help identify the UK’s top ten most common garden birds.  It was soon picked up by the BBC’s Blue Peter and having featured on the programme the idea – which was initially expected to be an activity for a few hundred children – received over 34,000 forms in its first year.

Since 2001 it has been opened up to everyone, young and old and now the survey also asks participants to report on the wider wildlife populations in their garden.


Attract the Birds

Bents has everything you need to help our feathered friends thrive and flourish. Bird Tables and Stations are made from the finest materials and our selection of nutritious, delicious bird food helps with their daily diet. But don’t forget…once birds discover new food supplies they will keep coming back, so don’t stop as they will quickly rely on what you put out. Keep food stations well stocked and maybe have a few positioned around the garden to see if they attract different varieties.

Last year ½ million people took part in the Birdwatch and over 8 million birds were counted.  Let’s help the RSPB beat this record…register now at Big Garden Birdwatch. Good luck and happy counting!

Voting opens for Bents ‘Charity Of The Year’

Over the years we have raised thousands of pounds for local causes through our Charity of the Year initiative and each year it gets harder and harder to choose a new charity…which is why this year we have put the 2018 decision into the hands of our customers.

Colleagues at Bents were invited to nominate charities of their choice and after careful consideration three fantastic causes were selected; Arthritis Research UK, Brainwave and St Rocco’s Hospice, to be its potential Charity of the Year 2018 and is inviting customers to cast a vote.


The three selected charities each something different and invaluable

All three finalists are very worthy causes, each providing something different and invaluable. Arthritis Research UK invests in breakthrough treatments, helping to make everyday life better for all 10million people suffering from the condition, whilst St Rocco’s Hospice provides high quality care for adults living with a terminal or life limiting illness.

Birchwood based Brainwave works with families to help children with disabilities and development delay covering a wide range of conditions from Down’s Syndrome, autism as well as rare genetic disorders.

Get involved

Our Charity of the Year campaign started with the Kirsty Howard Appeal for Francis House Hospice and since then we have been committed to focusing all our annual fundraising to a dedicated charity, which has resulted in some fantastic totals donated to some great causes. But each year it gets harder and harder to choose a new charity, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to get our customers involved in the decision.

Voting is easy. Customers who have made a purchase will be provided with a token which they can simply drop into the slot of their preferred charity.

The two runners up will both receive a donation of £250.00 with the winning charity given a starting boost of £500.00 by Bents.

Voting is now open with a closing date of Monday 5th February.


Shoulder to Soldier Makes Plans For New Allotment

Bents has teamed up with Shoulder to Soldier, donating a plot at our community allotment site to the Leigh based charity, which dedicates it’s time to supporting serving personnel, their families and veterans.


Shoulder to Soldier was formed in June 2017, and is committed to providing support, practical advice, financial relief and social welfare for those who are serving or who have served in our armed forces.  It was a veteran who suggested the use of an allotment to help improve mood and motivation and within 24 hours of making the request we were delighted to be able to donate one of our plots.

A veteran led project for those who have served in our armed forces

Very much a veteran led project, the allotment has already been visited by a team of 10, plus one current serving member.  Everyone who wishes to will have a role in the project and the ex-forces engineers are already using their skills to design the layout which will take into account disabled veterans.

Linda Fisher, who founded the Shoulder to Soldier charity commented that:  “The allotment is already proving very beneficial and will help improve health and well-being, team building and getting our guys out and about to meet and socialise with new people.  It is fantastic.  Thank you to Bents for providing this fantastic facility, which is already proving to be a very popular and thank you to the local businesses who have already supported the project by donating or reducing the price of items.”

A local charity offering wide ranging support

In addition to financial support, the work delivered by Shoulder to Soldier includes advocacy and advice for armed forces families, writing letters, attending benefits appeal hearings on a range of matters covering homelessness and housing, general finance, benefits and employment related matters.


Shoulder to Soldier is a local charity (1173255) based in Leigh which was founded by a person who is passionate about the Armed Forces; Linda Fisher. Linda has raised the profile of Armed Forces Families across the country and is endorsed by many Armed Forces Families and organisations for her passion, drive and commitment.


Here at Bents we have been looking for local groups to take advantage of our community so were delighted when Linda approached us about a plot for Shoulder to Soldier.  They are exactly the kind of initiative that we hoped would take advantage of this opportunity and we are looking forward to seeing the plot take shape.


Another local company, Culcheth Paving has donated base flags for an allotment shed and the charity has raised funds for the shed. Bob Brockelhurst of Garden Building Supplies gave a 35% discount and local veteran Kevin Moore has designed a wooden plaque for the shed.  The charity would welcome any other offers of support for tools, seeds, plans and equipment.

Pictured:  Ken Orton, Peter Smith, Andy Reynolds, Bob Watson and Lee Armstrong, all ex forces, with Linda Fisher (second from left), who founded Shoulder to Soldier

Bents Community Allotments

Sold Out

Surely there’s no better combination than fresh air, exercise and home grown produce; all of which can be achieved by growing your own. Bents’ Community Allotments provide gardeners with a blank canvas to indulge in their love of gardening; somewhere to design, plan, grow and harvest seasonal ingredients straight from the soil.

With 40 plots in total, four of which have been donated to local schools and 2 to our colleagues, we hope the allotments will be a great new addition to the local community and local residents will enjoy seeing and being involved in their development.

All plots include compostable area and 5% discount for use at Bents with your ‘be inspired’ card.

Green Credentials


Powered by our principles we have identified key areas where we as a business can make a difference to the world around us; helping to maintain sustainability and making it a better place to be.

We believe passionately in our surroundings and have a vision of a healthier, happier and greener future.  If we all take small steps, together we can achieve a bigger goal……

We are committed to our Green Footprints and are constantly reviewing and researching new opportunities for improvement. We aim to reduce our own carbon footprint and by growing almost 60% of our plants at our own on-site nurseries we have cut our transport requirements; another small step in helping the environment and the world around us.

Bents Six Green Footprints:


We’re committed to the 3 Rs; Recycling, Reducing and Reusing:

  • We recycle our plastics, glass, paper and cardboard and encourage our customers to do the same, with fully recyclable bags, biodegradable boot liners and customer recycling facilities on site.
  • All non black plastic plant pots and trays can be recycled and customers are encouraged to do this by using their own council pavement collections or by returning them to our recycling station. We also can recycle black plastic pots from customers by sending them back to our supplier.
  • We recycle and compost all the green waste from our growing nursery which is used for soil improvement, mulching or as planting material. We actively encourage our customers to do the same through the promotion of our compost bins.


To help maintain sustainability for our future generations we operate a highly efficient and self-reliant water recycling programme:

  • Our 3.5 million gallon reservoir has been helping reduce our impact on the environment since we built it in 1976.
  • All rain and run off water from throughout the Centre and car parks is collected in the reservoir.
  • Water in the reservoir is filtered and re-used for watering the plants on our growing nurseries and plant area.


Keeping fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be achieved in many ways. We encourage our customers to discover what’s right for them and help them reap the rewards:

  • Research shows that gardening provides a great form of all-round exercise, which utilises all major muscle groups. We encourage our customers to spend time in the garden which helps reduce stress levels.


We always look for opportunities to support our local community and work with them to maintain a strong and healthy society: 

  • Wherever possible we support schools and local initiatives, particularly those which involve outdoor activities.
  • Every year a different charity is chosen to be the ‘Bents Charity of the Year’ and we raise funds through various activities.
  • We actively support many good causes throughout the year and take part in nationwide initiatives such as the Macmillan Coffee Morning and Comic Relief.


We believe in trading fairly and responsibly with all of our suppliers from local sources to those further a field:

  • Where possible we buy from local suppliers and are looking at ways of increasing relationships to improve the quality of our supply chain throughout the Centre.
  • Through events such as our Ladies Evenings and Meet the Makers we invite and support local companies to attend and showcase their products here at Bents.
  • Many of our garden furniture and landscaping products are sourced from sustainable sources and we are working with our suppliers to ensure future FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) recognition or a similar accreditation on all appropriate products.


Changes in the way we live and modern lifestyles can have an effect on natural habitats.  We are committed to seeking out initiatives which will help redress the balance:

  • We have already planted over 5 acres of land with indigenous local trees which are providing food and habitat for wildlife and as part of our 10 year vision to help improve land surrounding the Centre we have also planted over 1000 saplings.
  • With much of our indigenous wildlife under threat we actively promote ways in which our customers can provide habitats to encourage wildlife back into their gardens.
  • We are committed to helping achieve the national peat reduction targets, wherever possible sourcing peat free or peat reduced products from our suppliers. We also encourage the use of alternative soil improvers such as organic fertilizer, chicken poultry manure, home compost bins and our complimentary coffee granule station.

Response to the Tonight programme

Charity of the Year

Alzheimers Society

We are now looking forward to working with Alzheimers Society and are keen to do just as well in 2017 as in previous years.

Over the years we have been successful in raising considerable amounts of money for many local causes and we hope 2017 will be no exception with a full calendar of events already planned. We hope the money raised during 2017 will be used to help people in the Warrington and surrounding areas who are affected by the condition.

Bents not only wants to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society but we also want to work with the charity to become a dementia friendly destination. Over the course of the year, we will work with the team at Alzheimer’s Society to provide tips and training for our colleagues and guidance as to how they can help people with dementia whilst at the Centre.

Bents aims to raise awareness of dementia and re-think how we can provide a warm, friendly and welcoming environment for those living with the condition