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From left, landscape gardener Tony Crisp, matron Michelle Fletcher and League of Friends volunteer Anne Parsons.
Sensory garden dream for Aldeburgh Community Hospital moves a step closer
08 February 2018

Green-fingered volunteers will see their dreams blossom when a new dementia-friendly sensory garden opens at Aldeburgh Community Hospital.

The garden will include an exercise area, a pavilion, a listening bench - designed to stimulate conversation and interaction amongst dementia patients – and scented, textured and edible plants.

Initial work has started on the Aldeburgh League of Friends-funded project and fundraising is continuing, with the final garden set to cost in excess of £30,000.

“We will use the rear of the garden which is a big area but not that accessible for wheelchair users and people unsteady on their feet, so therefore is very under-used,” said Anne Parsons, who leads the volunteer garden team and is sensory garden project manager.

“It is designed to be an outdoor extension of the hospital’s facilities to aid rehabilitation and recuperation of patients and will also be a resource for the whole community.
“We want to transform it into a place that can be enjoyed by all, but also offer areas of privacy for solace and stimulation.”

The first turf was turned over on Monday (Jan 29) and the project is likely to be completed in the summer.

One of the garden’s main features will be the horseshoe-shaped listening seat. It will feature wooden seat planks which can be purchased by supporters and engraved with names, or statements and questions designed to spark conversation.

“The whole garden will be needs-driven and not just based on the ideas of a few people,” added Anne.

“Fundraising is ongoing, we would like to raise about £30,000, and are grateful to the Saxmundham Rotary Club, Latimer Trust, county councillor Russ Ranger, TJ Howarth-Culf (Donation came from SCDC Enabling Communities budget) and the Co-op and Waitrose for their donations already.

“We have set up a donation page and would welcome any donations from the public.”

A wealth of research has indicated that patients who can enjoy green spaces, recover more quickly and can return home more rapidly. They also need less pain relief during their recovery.

Michelle Fletcher, Aldeburgh Community Hospital matron, said: “This project has been three years in the making and it is finally coming to fruition.

“Anne has carried on with her vision through some difficult times and remained committed to the idea of a sensory garden.

“It’s an absolutely fabulous idea, it will be a place of retreat and will offer areas of solace and stimulation for both patients and their loved-ones.”

To donate please visit https://mydonate.bt.com/events/achsensorygarden

Pictured above, from left, landscape gardener Tony Crisp, matron Michelle Fletcher and League of Friends volunteer Anne Parsons.