Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester joined staff from Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to officially open a new staff garden, The Queen Elizabeth II Staff Covid Recovery Garden, at St Peter’s Hospital today [Friday 12 May 2023].
The Duchess was greeted by the Surrey Lord Lieutenant, Mr Michael More-Molyneux, Chairman, Andy Field, Chief Executive, Julie Smith and Chief Nurse, Andrea Lewis, as well as Rae Wilkinson, who designed the garden and Harry Gray, who created the sculpture. Her Royal Highness was then shown to the Queen Elizabeth II Staff Covid Recovery Garden, where she joined staff from across the Trust to officially open the garden.
The courtyard garden was transformed into a tranquil space for staff as part of the Trust’s Healing Arts programme by Garden and Landscape Designer Rae Wilkinson, who also worked with the Trust last year to create the Eternal Garden.
Rae Wilkinson said: “The intention behind creating this garden was to acknowledge the hard work the staff do at the hospital, the risks they take and the losses suffered. The benefits brought by a moment within a garden, especially during the pandemic period and through difficult times is something of which we are all now becoming more aware. A garden is somewhere we can escape and recover, and also a space where we can reflect and remember, especially to remember those who have so sadly lost their lives while doing their vital work in this hospital during the Covid period.”
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester, Chairman Andy Field, Garden Designer Rae Wilkinson, Chief Executive Julie Smith, Sculptor Harry Gray, Chief Nurse Andrea Lewis, and the Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux.
As part of the event, The Duchess unveiled a sculpture which had been created especially for the garden by Harry Gray, who also created the Covid Star Medal which was gifted to Ashford and St Peter’s staff in 2021, the design of which features in the paving in the garden. The Covid Star Medal design has also been inlaid into a memorial bench which commemorates the colleagues that the Trust sadly lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Harry Gray said: “During the Pandemic we could not go into hospitals to hold our very ill loved ones, so as well as providing amazing care the staff gave this extra touch on our behalf. I have created this sculpture as a monument to remember these NHS staff and to celebrate this touch which is the very essence of what it is to be human.”
During her visit to the St Peter’s Hospital, The Duchess also met with Nursing and Midwifery staff in the Eternal Garden, as the opening was held on the same day as the Trust’s Pride in Nursing and Midwifery event. The event is a dual celebration of International Nurses Day, which is recognised each year on 12 May and International Day of the Midwife, which is takes place on 5 May each year.
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester meeting Nursing staff from Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Andrea Lewis, Chief Nurse, said: “We were very grateful to be joined today by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester, who officially opened this wonderful garden.
“I’d like to extend my thanks to Rae and Harry for creating this meaningful space for colleagues, and the Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals’ Charity and the Friends of St Peter’s for their generous donation which has made it possible to create a space where staff can spend time away from clinical and office environments.”
The Healing Arts programme was set up in 2019 and its aim is to provide different forms of art that improve both staff and patient environments, leading to positive experiences and better outcomes for those being cared for or working in those areas.
The Queen Elizabeth II Staff Covid Recovery Garden is one of the Healing Arts key projects, which has been funded by the Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals’ Charity and supported by a very generous donation from the Friends of St Peter’s Hospital.
Pictured top: Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester, Chairman Andy Field, followed by Chief Nurse Andrea Lewis, and Chief Executive Julie Smith.