Tending to shrubs, buds and hearts: Stockport volunteers use gardening to stem the pain of losing their loved ones

As part of national Volunteers Week, gardeners at St Ann’s Hospice have revealed how tending to the shrubs and buds at the Heald Green site helped them cope with the loss of their loved ones.

Come rain or shine, 365 days a year, the team of six helpers dedicated their time to making sure the gardens provided a peaceful outlet for the patients and the families at the hospice.

Volunteers include Ken Parkes, from Sale, who lost wife Janice in 2010.

He said: “Janice loved gardening and it’s nice to be able to give something back to St Ann’s which cared for her so well.

“We all enjoy our roles as part of the charity’s 850-strong army of volunteers.”

Colin Webb, from Heaton Mersey, whose late mother was a patient at St Ann’s, is the newest member of the green- fingered group.

Three months in, the keen golfer still believes that he knows very little about gardening, a claim that is fervently denied by his colleagues who have seen his ploughing and toiling skills in action.

Fellow gardener Elli Oliver, from Heaton Moor, described how spending time in the gardens comforted her while her late husband, Malcolm, was a resident at the hospice.

“We made a pact that I’d volunteer as we were both so thankful for all the care we received from the hospice,” Elli explained.

“I spent time in the garden here when Malcolm was a patient and it helped me to cope.”

Retired nurse Madeleine Cornford, from Bramhall, added: “We each spend at least a day a week gardening but the hard work’s worth it because we get some lovely comments from staff and patients who can even see the flowers from their beds.”

Other gardeners include Peter Ayling from Heald Green and Alan Beeley who volunteered at the Olympic Games in London and last year’s Commonwealth Games.

The volunteers are grateful to family firm Moss Bank Nurseries, of Leigh, who donate flowers, and various corporate helpers who do not mind getting their hands dirty in aid of St Ann’s.

Related Articles