‘British invasion’ marks Muscles volunteers return to Belgian Abbey



In 2014 Muscles for Charity volunteers from Belgium, the UK, USA and Germany completed projects at Tongerlo Abbey in rural Belgium.  In May 2016, twenty three volunteers (photographed above by Phil Boswell) returned to the Abbey and completed two projects, totaling 150 voluntary hours.


Phil outlines the Muscles activity at the Abbey, “The planned jobs at Tongerlo included; cutting a 40m long, metre wide, hedge in half to make it thinner – then almost halving its height.  The guys did a fantastic job, making a really precise, neat job of it; thinning out bushes and trees (pre-marked with orange tape by Brother Gabriel); transporting the debris; weeding the Da Vinci Garden and the footpaths around the main buildings; lots of hedge cutting; and strimming / weeding areas that Brother Gabriel couldn’t reach with weedkiller because of being too close to other plants.

TractorHedge row

 After lunch and at the request of the Abbot, the team tackled additional jobs in the English Garden, generally taking down trees and shrubs that were blocking the light from the rest of the garden. The difference we made in some areas, especially around one of the ponds was incredible.

The extra light made so much difference to the area. Again, all debris was transported away on the tractor. 



Mid afternoon we collected the safety gear, tidied the tools away and made a presentation of beer from St Peter’s brewery, near Halesworth, to Brother Gabriel. In return we were all provided with a pack of really tasty, locally made ginger biscuits before being treated to a Bro Gabriel-led tour of parts of the monastery (Da Vinci Last Supper painting and chapel included).

Message from Brother Gabriel

Last Saturday we received zealous men and women
from Muscles for Charity, U.K. and Belgium for the 2nd time.
As the first time, also this time we had a day full with friendship,
muscles and work.They did a lot of work in our gardens.
We were so happy with all this charity and friendship.
The abbot, our community and I are most thankful for all what Muscles for charity
did for us now and in the past.
                              God bless you and all the members of muscles for charity.  

          fr. Gabriël Goossens,  Abbaye of Tongerlo

Finally the team safely removed a large tree that had fallen on a property close to their accommodation in Westerlo. The owner, Vera, was delighted with the teams efforts on her behalf and subsequently made a donation to her favourite charity – Medicine sans frontiers. Thus completing a memorable days work.

Cabin cut off

Over the last decade, Muscles volunteers from the USA, Canada, Germany and the UK have enjoyed outstanding friendship, fun and incredible hospitality courtesy of the Lier based Belgian Muscles team. 

Behind their unquenchable desire to provide new and returning visitors with amazing food, beer, entertainment and accommodation is precise planning and hundreds of hours of work, before and after, each weekend’s activity.

2016 was no exception and Muscles volunteers everywhere salute and sincerely appreciate the impressive team effort by remarkable individuals.


                        “The locals reaction when it came time for the Brits to leave !”                           Muscles co-founder, Phil Boswell

   Visit the Belgium 2016 page for more photos of the 2016 https://musclesforcharity.wordpress.com/belgium/belgium-2016/

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