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