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New legacy garden is latest feature to be added to Chesterfield's cancer unit

The Chesterfield Royal Hospital has unveiled the latest part of its efforts to create a calm and relaxing environment for patients receiving cancer treatment at the NGS Macmillan Unit and their families.

The unit has been open to patients for a little over a year, bringing together many of the Royal’s cancer outpatient services in one, state of the art building. The project was supported by a £2.5million fundraising campaign in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support that helped to turn what would have been an ordinary building into an extraordinary one that was created with the input of architects, staff at the Royal and patients who used the facility.

But Macmillan’s generosity didn’t end there. A legacy garden, called ‘The Garden of Reflection that was designed by Lara Behr, won a gold medal at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park and was gifted to the hospital by Macmillan in 2017. Lara worked very closely with Derbyshire Community Health Service Groundsman David Sanderson to recreate the garden as closely as possible outside the NGS Macmillan Unit for patients and visitors to escape the hospital setting and enjoy the hospital’s natural surroundings.

Roger Start is the Trust’s Lead Cancer Clinician and oversaw the building of the unit, he said: “It’s a wonderful gesture from Macmillan and highlights that our partnership didn’t end with the fundraising campaign. The fabulous NGS Macmillan Unit allows us to care for local cancer patients and their loved-ones, both physically and emotionally, in a purpose-built environment that is ready for the future. It was always an ambition of mine to develop outside resources so to be given this incredible garden was amazing. Gardens can be really beneficial to health and well-being, particularly for those with cancer, and this gives our patients, visitors and staff a place to enjoy the fresh air, peace and reflection away from the clinical environment. We are working hard to improve our open spaces and make them more accessible to both patients and staff.

“This garden is such a fitting tribute to everyone who raised money and helped us to make this building what it is which is an incredible facility within which our team can deliver the best possible care to our cancer patients in an environment that complements that care superbly. To see people sitting at the benches, reading, taking a break and contemplating, to me that’s success and I’d like to thank everyone involved with making that happen.”

Lara Behr designed the garden, she said: “It was a genuine honour to create this garden for Macmillan and I hope it brings some comfort and peace to people who need it whilst they’re at this hospital. I took my inspiration from a wishing well and that feeling of hope and excitement I felt as a child whenever I had the chance to throw a penny in and make a wish. I wanted to capture that, to celebrate the good things that come from having hope for the future.”

Sue Sanderson, Macmillan Partnership Manager, added: “Patient experience has always been at the forefront in the design of this building and this beautiful garden only enhances that further, providing another tranquil space for patients, family and carers to relax. What struck me upon seeing it first hand is how tranquil it is, you can still see the hospital but the wide open space it overlooks in the other direction is just stunning and, for me, it really enhances the unit.”

Vernon Sanderson is the Assistant County Organiser for NGS Derbyshire, he said: “We all know about the therapeutic effects of being outdoors so to see this beautiful having such a prominent position outside the NGS Macmillan Unit underlines precisely why we wanted to donate to the Macmillan fundraising campaign.”

The Garden of Reflection was designed by Lara Behr and highlights the work of the charity and the importance of legacy gifts. Timber poles of varying sizes represent the work of Macmillan that has been made possible by donations, both and large and small, particularly significant for the NGS Macmillan Unit and the contribution made by so many fundraisers across the local community and the National Garden Scheme (NGS).

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