Volunteers' Week 2020: Meet our blooming brilliant gardeners

Meet some of our green-fingered volunteer gardeners who have previously helped to keep our grounds safe, tidy and looking lovely for patients and staff at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice and Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice.

Image of volunteer gardeners at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice

Gardening at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice

72-year-old Ann Foreman and 66-year-old Eileen Yeomans became friends in later life through their mutual love of gardening. Before the coronavirus pandemic, they had volunteered in the garden at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice for a couple of hours each week, planting bulbs, tending to blooms and encouraging nature to flourish.

Eileen said: “I have always loved gardening, ever since I was a child, and it’s something I have carried with me throughout my life. I love the creativity, fresh air, exercise and the wildlife. It’s also been great for my friendship with Ann as we can discuss things, come up with ideas and learn new things about different plants. We have so much pride in what we’re doing at the hospice and hopefully we're making people’s lives a little bit more bearable at the end of life.” 

Providing patients and families an oasis of calm outside

As well as sensory spaces, the hospice’s memory garden, which includes a pond and summer house, provides patients and families a tranquil oasis of calm outside their bedrooms and away from clinical areas.

Ann said: “Eileen and I love gardening and being outside, but it’s not just us that benefit from what we do at the hospice – it’s everyone, including the patients, staff and visitors. When the patients are able to come out and sit in the sunshine and have something nice to look at, it must lift their spirits. I know that many of them wish they could still garden, and they always talk to us about what we’re working on and tell us that they appreciate what we do.”

Richard Thompson is another our of our gardening volunteers. One of his more recent projects involved recycling large wooden gate post from the grounds by chiselling it out and making it into a flower planter.

“I would come to the hospice every week and spend a few hours tidying, pruning, weeding and trimming to make sure the garden is maintained for everyone to enjoy. What I like most about gardening is the peace and quiet which gives me time to think.”

Gardening at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice

Another of our blooming brilliant volunteer gardeners is Chris. For the past two years, he has given up his time to tend our grounds at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice to keep them looking beautiful.

Image of Sue Ryder volunteer gardener, Chris

“I absolutely love volunteering at Thorpe Hall Hospice; I have a real passion for the place.

“My mum spent three weeks at the hospice in 2018. She had terminal cancer and the care she received was unsurpassable. I like gardening and this is my way of giving something back for mum’s care."

“I help to look after the grounds and gardens, from cutting the grass to caring for the roses, planting and watering."

Designing the Labyrinth

Last year, Chris created a tranquil Labyrinth garden feature for everyone to enjoy. 

“I started working on the Labyrinth while mum was at the hospice. When she died I wanted to finish it.

“A Labyrinth is a spiritual tool – a curving path you can walk round to help find peace and reflection.

“It was the idea of the hospice’s Head of Spiritual Care – she describes it as not a maze where you lose yourself, but as a Labyrinth where you find yourself. She gave me a design for inspiration – which was pretty small, not much bigger than the size of a postage stamp!"

“I mapped out the design and built it mathematically using cobbles to mark out the pathway. Everyone at the hospice can spend some peaceful time at the Labyrinth when they need it.” 

Thank you to all our volunteers

Taking place 1 - 7 June ever year, Volunteers' Week is a chance to celebrate and say thank you for the contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK, including the thousands who support Sue Ryder across our hospices, neurological centres, charity shops and in the local community.

Find out more about volunteering with Sue Ryder.