St Helier Hospital can now offer patients, visitors and staff a quiet corner of calm, thanks to a new secret garden (complete with two giraffe statues) that opened on Wednesday 23 May, just outside Ferguson House.
The new garden area – which features beautiful flowers, shrubs, a new picnic table and even some outside sculptures – was created in loving memory of Lesley Leahy, a nursing member of the neonatal team who had worked at St Helier since qualifying at the hospital 30 years ago. When Lesley sadly passed away last year, her colleagues knew exactly what to do to honour her memory and set about fundraising and recruiting volunteers to create the tranquil new space.
Fiona Herbert, Administration Assistant and Charity Manager for the Neonatal Unit, said: “Lesley loved nature in all forms, so the team decided to create a welcoming space in her memory for patients, staff and visitors to be able to take time away from the bustling hospital to relax. We’ve been able to renovate this space thanks to various fundraising events such as raffles and cake sales and invaluable funding and support from the League of Friends for St Helier Hospital, who also donated a wooden bench in memory of former a volunteer and his son, Tom and Adrian Hammant.
“As Lesley loved nature and greenery, the secret garden is a great way for us to remember her. The giraffe statues have a lot of significance, as a few weeks before Lesley passed away, we adopted a giraffe for her and took her to hand feed them at Chessington Zoo. The zoo guide took us to the outside feeding area where the named adoption plaque was. Lesley commented that it was the best day out she had ever had.”
The secret garden was officially opened with the help of two former neonatal patients, Freddie and Connor, and some of the children from the onsite nursery. The secret garden consists of various interesting things such as giraffe statues, flowers and strawberry plants, a picnic table and bench that provides space for wheelchair access and pushchairs. We also installed bird, butterfly and ladybird houses to promote the best natural environment possible.
Daniel Elkeles, Chief Executive, who was also at the official opening, said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to the neonatal team for leading on this wonderful project in memory of Lesley. Thank you also to the family and loved ones of our dedicated staff who gave up their time to help. The secret garden looks wonderful and I am sure staff, patients and visitors will really appreciate having this tranquil outdoor space.”
Special thanks also to Special Care Baby Unit staff team at St Helier, Estates Maintenance Team, the League of Friends for St Helier Hospital, L&T Reddington Civil Engineers Ltd, PG Marshall and Sons Ltd, Joie de Manger, Burren and Whittaker, Construction Ltd, Nurture Landscapes Ltd, Colin Davis Construction, Sean Brett, Nicola Kavanagh and all those who donated funds and/or their time.