A former gardener for HM the Queen is supporting an appeal launched by Thames Hospice to raise funds for their new gardens.
Graham Stone was one of the Queen’s Windsor Castle gardeners for more than 40 years before retiring this year. Now a volunteer at Thames Hospice, he’s backing ‘Grow our gardens’, the hospice’s spring fundraising appeal to help fund the waterside landscaped gardens at their new site, which is set to open this summer.
The new hospice is set in eight acres of local countryside overlooking Bray Lake. The charity’s vision is to create several new garden areas that will become an oasis of peaceful calm for patients, and a place for bereaved loved ones to return to time and again.
The hospice needs to raise £700,000 to buy the plants, flowers and trees needed to create ten different lush, beautiful gardens for the first patients they will be welcoming when the new facility opens in a few months’ time.
Graham’s deep passion for nature and the environment started from a young age. He explains: “I was one of those boys that, in any spare moment, would pack a lunch and venture into the great outdoors! It was no surprise to anyone that I ended up studying and working my whole life in horticulture!”
Hospice care is a cause very close to Graham’s heart, having experienced it directly when both his father and stepmother passed away. Graham added: “When you’re with your loved one in their final moments of life, having access to green space and calmness around you is vital. I also believe it’s important for the well-being of hospice staff and volunteers to work in an environment where they can step outside, take time out and recharge. I am honoured to be supporting Thames Hospice’s fundraising appeal and very excited to be helping to oversee the landscaping project and ongoing maintenance of the hospice gardens.
“There may be a time when you, a family member or friend will need the care and support of the hospice. I urge the local community to give what they can towards this brilliant gardens appeal.”
The new grounds and gardens have been carefully designed to allow patients of all abilities and their families to enjoy outdoor space as much as they can. Patients who visit for Day Therapies will have the chance to spend time outside in the gardens. For In-patients who are able to walk, or who can be helped out in a wheelchair, there will be paths right round the hospice, leading down to the magnificent view over the lake.
In every area there will be special places, tucked-away, to sit quietly and reflect – or perhaps share precious moments with loved ones. If the only possible option is for a patient to be taken just outside the doors of their hospice bedroom, a garden of vibrant colour, sound and scent will be created for them to relax in.
David Waugh, a patient who is currently accessing the services at Thames Hospice, said: “I think what we get from gardens is highly personal. I hope I’ll be here to experience these new gardens for myself.”
Debbie Raven, Chief Executive at the hospice, added: “The new hospice building and our amazing staff will of course both be fundamental to providing the highest quality of care. But, to give our patients and their loved ones the chance to enjoy their remaining months, weeks or even days together to the fullest, that’s where the gardens will play their role.
“With the hospice build almost complete, we are now focussed on creating the very best gardens in our community, offering local families a place of vibrant life and colour as well as peace and tranquillity.”
For more information visit Thames Hospice