Churchill Fellows, David Morgan and Sally Coulthard MBE, have joined forces in developing the Defender to Entrepreneur Programme for military veterans participating in The Defence Gardens Scheme.

In 2017, Sally studied for an MSc in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture; in 2019 was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study Nature Based Therapy for military personnel in Denmark and the USA. Sally has used her findings to develop The Defence Gardens Scheme (DGS). This social enterprise is developing a network of veteran-friendly gardens in the UK.

In 2018, David was funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to travel to the US to research prison and community entrepreneurship programmes with exceptionally low re-offending rates. What David saw inspired him to share these insights and to set up a social enterprise, Entrepreneurs Unlocked.

David and Sally would most likely never have met without the Fellowship and their common cause and passions centred around this. The two met in 2020 via the Mobilize Fellowship networking platform. Sally became aware, via the network, of the work and range of programmes that David was undertaking with prison leavers across the UK. She was also aware that a percentage of the veterans she worked with on the DGS programmes could be coming through the criminal justice system.

Sally immediately saw a connection between David’s work with Entrepreneurs Unlocked and the potential positive outcomes that collaboration could bring. People transitioning from the military face similar barriers to successfully reintegrating into society, similar to those leaving custody. These include loneliness, isolation, and a lack of awareness of how to use their skills and talents differently.

In spring 2021, in Manchester, DGS partnered with Curzon-Ashton Community Foundation to develop a Hub and a Spoke community garden. The garden was designed and developed with veterans, who together have made a real contribution to the growth and sustainability of the long-term community garden.

The DGS garden in Manchester was close to David Morgan and Entrepreneurs Unlocked head office, providing the ideal opportunity to integrate David’s offering into the 10-week DGS programme for the first time.

David developed and introduced a new element to the DGS programme, introducing the mentoring and support needed to any veterans showing interest in the potential progression into self-employment in gardening. This will help the veterans into this next step into becoming gardeners, horticultural contractors and more.

Together, Sally and David have developed the Defender to Entrepreneur element of the DGS programme to help and support veterans on a route into self-employment. The Defender to Entrepreneur plan incorporates comprehensive booklets and online and face-to-face support.

Manchester DGS has been made possible due to securing funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund Tackling Loneliness Programme. This funding will support 6 programmes for 48 veterans over the next 2 years.

It is planned for the Defender to Entrepreneur programme to be incorporated into future DGS programmes nationally.

This exciting and innovative venture and collaboration would not have gotten off the ground without the support, connection, and opportunities for introductions between fellows provided by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

To find out more about DGS, visit


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