The garden at Stonor Park near Henley-on-Thames played host to an extraordinary celebration recently when it opened its gates for a garden visit and afternoon tea for unpaid carers and frontline hospice and hospital workers.
The event celebrated 25 years of support and over £21 million in funding from the National Garden Scheme for three of its key beneficiaries: Marie Curie, Hospice UK and Carers Trust.
The occasion brought together the key ingredients that mark the National Garden Scheme’s success: great gardens, great cakes and great causes.
National Garden Scheme Chief Executive, George Plumptre, said:
“It was an absolute delight to welcome such a wonderful group of people to Stonor Park to celebrate this key milestone for the National Garden Scheme.”
Unpaid carers, palliative care doctors and physiotherapists shared the afternoon with charity volunteers and chief executives, enjoying the beautiful gardens at Stonor Park along with afternoon tea in vintage china and a prosecco toast.
National Garden Scheme Chief Executive George Plumptre said:
“Twenty-five years ago, in 1996, our donations went to support district nurses and Macmillan nurses. The addition of these three charities extended donations to palliative care nurses, hospice care and carers, thereby making a significant expansion to our charitable impact.
“Since then, the combined total of more than £21 million that we have given to these three great organisations has made us the most significant cumulative funder of each. The total, and our ability to provide long-term funding commitments to these nursing and health charities, is something that we are immensely proud of and keen to celebrate.”
Many local carers attended the afternoon, which was a wonderful break from their usual caring duties. One said: “Spending time in a lovely garden, away from our usual duties, even only for a couple of hours, is like a holiday, a lovely holiday.”
Commenting on the event, Nurse Consultant Katherine Gilbert of Hospice UK said:
“My colleagues from Thames Hospice and I had a wonderful afternoon exploring the beautiful gardens at Stonor Park. It was a pleasure to celebrate everything the National Garden Scheme has done to support hospice care over the past 25 years – thank you!”
What the funding means
Marie Curie has received £10.3 million in funding since 1996, making the National Garden Scheme one of their highest-value partners.
Marie Curie CEO, Matthew Reed said:
“The long-term support of the National Garden Scheme has been fundamental to our operations over the last 25 years, and we’re proud to have a partner like them by our side throughout the changing landscape for over two decades.
“The partnership has enabled us to continue the essential provision of our national end of life community nursing service, including funding crucial career progression costs for nurses, to support our nine hospices, our Information and Support service and Helpline. Not only that, but previously opening up our own gardens for the Scheme has been a welcome way to invite the public into our hospices, which we’ve loved participating in.
“The National Garden Scheme is, and continues to be one of our longest-standing and most valued partners, and we’re delighted to be continuing to work with them as we look to transform end of life care across the UK, together.”
In addition to the funding received, like Marie Curie, Hospice UK encourages its own hospice gardens to open for the National Garden Scheme providing an open door to local communities and helping to raise awareness and funds for their important work.
Hospice UK CEO Tracey Bleakley said:
“Inviting the public to visit our hospice gardens is a wonderful way to share our work with a wider audience and to share the benefits of these beautiful spaces with others.
“It’s a perfect partnership. The £6.4 million we’ve received from the National Garden Scheme and the long-term commitment has underpinned the support we’ve been able to provide to the whole hospice sector. Funding from the National Garden Scheme has also supported a bursary programme for hospices and our annual awards ceremony which celebrates the achievements of our hospice staff and volunteers. In addition, National Garden Scheme gardens provide a wonderful space for our beneficiaries, staff and supporters to relax, learn and unwind.”
Access to National Garden Scheme gardens has also been important to Carers Trust, which supports around 438,000 unpaid carers every year in the UK.
Svetlana Kirov, Director of Fundraising at Carers Trust, said:
“The National Garden Scheme was an early supporter of unpaid carers, and its continued funding for 25 years has made a dramatic impact on what we have been able to do during that time.
“We’re hugely grateful for this long-term commitment from the National Garden Scheme. The £5 million has transformed the lives of unpaid carers across the UK, not least because it has meant we have been able to provide them with respite from, and more support with, their caring role. In recent years the programme of free group carer visits to National Garden Scheme gardens has also been a real gift for carers, giving them the precious opportunity to enjoy the company and laughter of their fellow carers in the most beautiful surroundings imaginable.”