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Inverclyde community rallies round to transform hospital garden

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

It’s the kind of thing you normally see on those shows on television – a community rallies round to give a garden a well-deserved makeover.

But taking centre stage this time round is a patch of ground at the Larkfield Unit at Inverclyde Royal Hospital, a garden that was looking a bit tired and lacking in colour, which has been transformed thanks to the hard work of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde staff and donations by local people and businesses.

The project was the brainchild of Occupational Therapist Sandra Forbes, who came up with the idea after taking a patient outside for some fresh air.

“The patient had just transferred to the Larkfield Unit, and I thought some time outside would be beneficial,” said Sandra, “but it looked very, very sad. There was no colour, and the wishing well in the middle had rotted.

“I wanted to make it a nicer place and thought, do you know what, it wouldn’t take much to make it lovely.”

Sandra spoke to the company that maintained the garden, Bellrock, to make sure they had no objection to the work, and as well as giving Sandra their blessing, they also donated £200 for bedding plants and gave the team the tools they needed.

Then it was down to work with the help of staff from the hospital, who had been persuaded by Sandra – “I basically coerced them,” she joked – to lend a hand.

As word of the project spread, local businesses, charities and private citizens gave their support, with donations of money, practical advice and supplies soon pouring in.

“We were able to clear the raised beds and put in lots of new planting, and we sanded and painted the benches to give them a new lease of life,” Sandra said.

“There was one lovely donation from a family whose relative had been treated at the unit following a stroke. They have given us a bench with a table and companion seat. It was such a nice gesture.”

Now that the garden is looking spick and span, and the good weather is finally here, the Larkfield Unit’s new outside space is a hive of activity.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Sandra said, “but it’s so lovely that people can use it properly, and enjoy it.

“We’ve named it the IRH Rainbow Garden, which seems fitting after this past year.”

Sandra thanked everybody from the hospital and beyond who did so much to help, thought she did single out Health Care Support Worker Lorna Collins, who was instrumental in the success of the project.

“It has been such a fantastic team effort,” she added, “and to see the whole community rally round and help has been wonderful.

“My own parents have dementia, so it means a lot to see all the work that’s been done.”


Full list of donations

  • The Taggart Family (from a stroke patient who was very grateful for the treatment he received): Garden bench with companion seat and table, due to arrive in July.
  • Laura and John of Belville Community Garden Trust: Making a raised beds on wheels (funded by Cath Tearne from NHS Health Improvement Team).
  • Parklea Branching Out Project: discount on plants and specialist advice on plants to ensure there is colour throughout the year.
  • Fiona MacLean, whose dad was previously in stroke ward: £25
  • Ruth Gavin of The Interior Touch: £25
  • Chris Gavin-£40
  • Martin and Nora McLachlan-£100-mother attended the Argyll unit –medicine for the elderly patient
  • Gordon Booth at Bellrock: £200
  • Marion Stevenson (private donation from keen gardener): £20
  • Elspeth Campbell Health Foot Practitioner from Toes and Soles: £100
  • Sandra Forbes, Occupational Therapist: £100
  • Lorna Collins: Plants, garden hose, membrane
  • Wendy Haldane (mother had cardiac problems): Paint brushes
  • The Inverclyde Shed (Bruce Newlands): Carved wooden signage for link corridor and in garden
  • The Tuesday Belles-£50
  • Jacqueline Fulton, Health Care Support Worker: Solar lights for bird food hanger.
  • Alison Bunce from Compassionate Inverclyde has signposted us to a primary school in Inverkip and the children are going to paints stones that can be placed around the pots to add more colour, Compassionate Inverclyde have knitted hearts which we plan on stringing onto the trees along with solar string lights.
  • Denise McIntosh –nursing assistant in the Stroke Ward buys bird seed each week and fills the holders daily to ensure lots of small birds are attracted to the garden, she sees the difference this make to the patients as they look out the window.
  • William Bench and family-£100 –who enjoyed the garden whilst an inpatient and spent time there Facetiming family and friends enjoying the fresh air.


Sandra Forbes, Occupational Therapist

Lorna Collins, Health Care Support Worker

Rhian Jewell, Occupational Therapist

Alison Jardine, Physiotherapist

Gaynor McGrath, Physiotherapist

Ellis Pollock, Health Care Support Worker

Heather Roger, Health Care Support Worker

Rachael Harris, Health Care Support Worker


Volunteers from outwith NHS

Wendy Haldane

Ruth Gavin

Fiona McLean

Wendy O’Neill (Retired Nurse already a red t-shirt volunteer)



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Last Updated: 22 June 2021