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Award-winning Covid Recovery Garden unveiled at Aylesbury clinic

Left to right: Harriet Barnes & Holly Simons Instron, Rachel Platt, Neil Macdonald, Paul Chapman, Lee-ann Maritz Caledonian Stone, Miles Hebron Vande Moortel

Senior leaders of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust joined a local garden designer at the Brookside Clinic in Aylesbury on Wednesday for the unveiling of a Covid recovery garden.

Garden designer Rachel Platt from Marlow originally submitted her design for the RHS Tatton Park Show in July, winning the People’s Choice Award, before donating the garden to the Brookside Clinic.

The idea for the garden, which is titled ‘Covid Recovery Garden,’ was a result of Rachel’s own year-long battle with Long Covid, which she developed after catching Covid-19 in December 2020, before a vaccine was available.

Based on the staff carried by the Greek God, Hermes, which represents rejuvenation, the garden’s design was directly influenced by the medical professionals who treated her.

Speaking to Bucks Radio last month, Rachel said: “I knew I wanted this to go to a hospital when I saw how busy all the nurses were while I was sick,” adding, “it makes me feel very warm inside knowing that what started out as a show garden now has a home, has an afterlife, a legacy, where people can use it and love it.”

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.

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.

[PICTURE: Designer Rachel Platt with Neil Macdonald, Chief Executive at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust]

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