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New Garden for Terminally Ill Patients

Posted on 13th September 2017

Heart of Kent Hospice, based in Aylesford near Maidstone, is celebrating the opening of its new garden for local people with terminal illnesses.

Before its transformation the original garden consisted of a small paved area with an inaccessible slope of stony ground. The aim of the new garden was to transform the area into a level, much larger, beautiful space where visitors to the Hospice’s Outpatient Centre, Magnolia Place, could enjoy an improved sense of wellbeing.

Magnolia Place already provides specialist advice and a range of therapeutic activities to help patients manage the physical, emotional and psychological effects of their illnesses. It is hoped that the new, accessible garden will contribute to this, not least in giving patients the opportunity to participate in the pleasure of choosing plants and growing their own flowers, fruit and vegetables.

Speaking at the opening of the garden, Heart of Kent Hospice Chief Executive, Sarah Pugh said she was thrilled with the results: “The therapeutic effects of gardens and contact with nature are well known in helping to reduce depression, anxiety and loneliness, and enhance feelings of wellbeing.

“This garden is a wonderful gift to our patients, which would not have been possible without the enormous kindness and generosity of Jacksons Fencing, Chartway Group, Spadework, and the financial contributions of Co-Op Local Community Fund and WG Edwards Charitable Foundation.”

The garden was only made possible when the Hospice won a competition run by Jacksons Fencing to support a local community project with a substantial donation of timber. For the Hospice, Jackson’s donation amounted to £10,000 of fencing, decking, sleepers and planters. Andy Tune, Operations Director explained: “We wanted to support a community project which would help a lot of people. There were many excellent initiatives we could have chosen but we felt the Hospice’s entry was a strong winner and we were only too pleased to support it.”

Chartway Group‘s involvement came after a chance conversation when the company attended a Hospice event for its corporate supporters. Managing Director, Ian Savage explained: “We’ve been involved with Heart of Kent Hospice for over three years, participating in charity days and other events. When my colleague mentioned to me that the Hospice was planning to create a garden for its patients, we decided to offer to build it. We enjoy being involved and this was another opportunity to give something back.” A call to borrow some plants from Spadework to decorate the garden for its grand opening resulted in a new found partnership with the charity which provides life skills, training and work experience for local people with learning difficulties. As well as donations of plants and flowers, Spadework offered their gardening expertise and Trainees, not only for preparing the garden for the grand opening but also in the future. “We were delighted to be asked” said Horticultural Team Leader Alison Walker. “This was a great opportunity to work in partnership with the Hospice and we now look forward to working together and seeing how the garden progresses over the long term.”

Work on the garden started in July 2017 and was completed at the end of August 2017. The grand opening took place today, Tuesday 5 September 2017 and included representatives from the donor organisations, as well as patients, volunteers, trustees and the Hospice’s patron Lady Monckton.

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