Chelsea Garden opens at hospice

Categories: People & Places.

After a successful crowdfunding campaign, an award-winning garden that was exhibited at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this summer has opened at its new permanent home in the grounds of The Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted.

The Myeloma UK Garden ‘Seeds of Hope’, won a Silver-Gilt medal at Chelsea and is one of only nine of the 27 gardens on show in May to be relocated in its entirety.

Rising from the garden’s centre is a 12-foot translucent sculpture, built from 120 layers of blue Perspex acrylic, which appears to be blowing seeds and plants onto fertile soil below, representing new medical treatments and as a sign of hope and growth.

Local resident Peter King was the inspiration for the garden after losing both his wife Gill and brother Graham to myeloma in 2016, and Peter and Gill’s daughter Gemma is the model for the sculpture. After helping secure funds to show the garden at Chelsea he crowdfunded so that Myeloma UK could gift it to the hospice, where Gill was cared for in her final days.

Peter said:

“I wanted the garden to go to the hospice because it is such a wonderful place and the services on offer are fantastic. It also has beautiful grounds so by giving it a permanent home there,  I hope the garden will bring both hope and inspiration to hospice users as well as to those who work there, including the many dedicated volunteers.”

Dame Carolyn McCall OBE, the first female Chief Executive of ITV, cut the ribbon while hospice CEO Kate Phipps-Wiltshire and Rosemarie Finley, Chief Executive of Myeloma UK, both spoke movingly about the garden’s significance.

Around 300 guests attending the unveiling, including the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire Suzy Harvey, Mayor of Dacorum Cllr Rosie Sutton, former Hospice Chairs of Trustees Joan Gentry, Jo Connell and Charlie Toner, and current Chair Alison Woodhams. The event featured live music, inspirational talks from the garden’s designers John Everiss and Francesca Murrell, stalls selling gardening-related items, and volunteer-led tours of the hospice’s seven-acre gardens.

Beauty specialists Glorious Brands sponsored the event, which meant all funds raised from the opening, anticipated to be in the region of £5,000-£6,000 – will directly support patient care.

Designer, John Everiss, commented:

“It is just fantastic that the garden will live on at The Hospice of St Francis. Many people who go to a hospice are looking for hope and it is a piece of art they will see as they come up the drive which represents a positive message of overcoming  struggles.”

CEO Kate Phipps-Wiltshire said:

“We are delighted and honoured to receive the gift of the RHS Chelsea 2018 Myeloma UK Garden, bringing a very special meaning in its design and planting, and representing seeds of hope for patients, families, staff, volunteers and visitors for generations to come.

“On behalf of the hospice, I would like to thank everyone who came to the grand opening.  We were truly humbled by the help given to bring the event together and the interest and support on the day – many of our guests never having been to the hospice before.  We have a deep connection with the transformative power of gardens at The Hospice of St Francis and our Myeloma UK partnership is testimony to this.”

For more information visit The Hospice of St Francis

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