Long-COVID patient donates award-winning garden as a thank you to Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

A white woman in her 30s and a white man in his 40s are stood in the new garden in winter coats. The copper-green path winds through the planting and a tree in the foreground has messages of thanks hanging in the branches

Senior leaders of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust joined local staff and volunteers, garden designer Rachel Platt, main contractors and sponsors at Brookside Clinic in Aylesbury yesterday for the unveiling of the new COVID recovery garden.

The garden, which will also be open to the public, will benefit both staff at the clinic as well as patients visiting the Trust’s sexual health clinic and its Community Head Injuries Service (CHIS). Several people being supported by CHIS have in fact signed up as volunteer gardeners to help maintain the garden. Not only does the space feature several sensory and medicinal plants, but the act of gardening itself supports the personalised brain-injury rehabilitation practiced by CHIS.

The garden was originally designed as a submission for the RHS Tatton Park Show in July 2022, where it won both the Silver-Gilt Medal, Best Construction and the People’s Choice Award. But, having been treated at Stoke Mandeville Hospital for Long-COVID, the garden’s talented young designer Rachel Platt knew that she wanted to gift it to the Trust.

Rachel Platt said: “I would like to thank the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust for allowing the show garden to be re-built on one of its premises. I wanted to give the garden to them as they have helped a lot with my recent health issues and treated me during the pandemic when I had long-COVID. It is an honour to have been able to produce a garden that will benefit and be seen by so many local people.”

Neil Macdonald, Chief Executive at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust said: “I would like to thank Rachel for this thoughtful gift; a beautiful, healing garden at Brookside clinic for patients, colleagues and the general public to enjoy. I’d also like to thank the project team, Rachel’s sponsors as well as our Trust’s own Charitable Funds, who funded the move and rebuild of this award-winning garden. This garden symbolises something positive that has come out of the pandemic, something that will have real, and lasting, legacy.”

Staff at Brookside Clinic and a contingent from RAF Halton helped prep the site. The re-build project team at the Trust collaborated closely with Rachel and her main contractor Paul Chapman (PCB Landscaping and Design) and other contractors to move the garden from Tatton Park in early July and the re-build during the first few weeks of August.

Watch a video of the Covid recovery garden on YouTube.

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