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Inspired to donate: The Stroke Association’s Garden for Recovery

by | 20 May 24 | Garden Design, Long Reads, News

Stroke survivor and garden designer Miria Harris has teamed up with the UK Stroke Association charity to bring the Stroke Association’s Garden for Recovery to life at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Having designed a peaceful, sensory space to support stroke recovery, “The Stroke Association’s Garden for Recovery aims to elevate the charity’s cause and vision of a world where everyone has a fighting chance of surviving a stroke and gets the support they need, so they are not just living to survive, but able to live life again,” says Harris.

Touched by their shared experiences and the dedication that Harris continues to show towards supporting the community of stroke survivors, Sarah Kilgariff, director of Topsoil and More was inspired to contribute to the project.

“We just wanted to give something back and get involved because the Stroke Association has helped us with so much,” says Kilgariff.

At only four years old, Kilgariff’s son, Freddie was rushed to hospital after suffering a stroke which was caused by the common chickenpox virus that got into his spinal fluid. “Somehow the chickenpox virus passed into his brain and into the brain fluid which caused the blood vessels to restrict and blocked the flow of blood which then caused a stroke.” Says Kilgariff.

Initially left completely paralysed on his left side, Freddie lost the ability to move, eat, and swallow.

One year later, and life has not been the same for the family.

“We’re just working on how to turn the really negative into some kind of positive,” says Kilgariff, “If you dwell too much on the bad, you’ll just go into a black hole, so we’re just really trying to concentrate on the positives.”

Harris and Kilgariff then began their discussions, planning logistics and potential donations, ending with the agreement that Topsoil and More are to donate the soil and compost for both the garden whilst at Chelsea, and its relocation to the stroke unit at Chapel Allerton Hospital in Leeds.

Kilgariff says that her discovery of the garden was ‘by chance.’ “I saw a post on social media that there was going to be a Stroke Association garden at RHS Chelsea, and I just felt compelled to email the garden designer and ask if we could get involved in any way whatsoever, even if just to donate some soil.”

“We really want to raise awareness and put the idea of a stroke striking at any time in the forefront of people’s minds,” says Kilgariff. “People don’t realise that a stroke can happen to absolutely anybody, anytime and irrespective of age.”

If the garden can educate at least one person, that could mean another life is saved from the threat of a stroke in future.

Now, five-year-old Freddie is attending school where, thanks to the Stroke Association, special training has been arranged to assist teachers in learning the signs to look out for and the possible challenges that children like Freddie may need help in overcoming.

Although the road to recovery is slow, tough, and unpredictable, Freddie is heading in the right direction, and with projects such as Harris’ Stroke Association’s Garden for Recovery being represented at Chelsea, there is hope that stroke awareness will only continue to grow.

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