GENEROUS homeowners have been opening up their gardens to the general public in a bid to raise money for a local hospice.

18 gardens have been open to friends, families and neighbours across north Essex between April and September.

£3,259.73 has been raised and donated so far, with all proceeds going towards St Helena Hospice.

The charity provides specialist care for patients and their families who have progressive, incurable illnesses.

The Skinny Jean Gardener, Lee Connelly, who is better known for his weekly podcasts and contributions on Blue Peter, was one of the willing participants and has admitted he has had plenty of fun throughout the summer.

He said: "I really enjoyed running my first open garden – it brought my friends, family and neighbours together for one afternoon to raise money for a great cause.

"The whole experience was so easy and a lot of fun. Everyone got involved to make it awesome, and I will be sure to be planning my next one very soon."

Anyone interested in opening their garden up to the public next year in a bid to raise funds for St Helena Hospice is invited to email