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Work will start soon on therapeutic garden at hospital

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Work to transform a courtyard into a therapeutic garden for patients, visitors and staff starts soon at Rutland Memorial Hospital.

Costing £38,000, the work is being paid for using part of a bequest from Uppingham undertaker Edward Toon, who left more than £150,000 to the Oakham hospital.

The courtyard has been designed by Oakham-based Thomas Wilson Architects and will be built by landscape garden designer David Penny.

A plaque paying tribute to Mr Toon will be placed in the garden, overlooked by the in-patient Rutland Ward.

Maria Ward, Rutland ward manager, said: “We are delighted to have a provisional start date so the garden can be enjoyed from late autumn onwards.

“Although the project has suffered from a number of delays, the aim is to create a peaceful, contemplative space that is safe and easy to maintain.

“It will encourage patients and visitors to spend time outside, away from the clinical environment.

“We will be looking into further ways to make best use of Mr Toon’s generous legacy and his wish to improve the environment around the hospital for patients and staff.”

Work is due to begin in September and the garden will include raised borders, artificial turf, wheelchair-friendly flooring and contrasting pathways to help visually-impaired patients.

Architect Martin Wilson believes the plans are a great chance to rejuvenate the space and allow the hospital to realise its full potential.

He said: “The design creates a series of welcoming spaces featuring seating and lush planting that will vary in colour, height and texture to intensify the sensory experience.

“Seating areas are reached along clearly defined footpaths to aid the passage of all garden users and particular measures have been taken to ensure the elderly, infirm and wheelchair users can enjoy the experience.

“It is intended that the courtyard garden will become an integral part of the hospital environment and not only prove an enjoyable place to be, but also have a therapeutic effect on the wellbeing of all who use it.”

Once work is complete and plants have become established, hospital managers hope to use artwork and art installations by local artists to make the courtyard an even more stimulating place.

An official opening ceremony is being planned for next spring, but patients will be able to spend time in the garden from this autumn.

Pat Morley, from the hospital’s League of Friends, welcomed the news.

She said: “This will improve the environment for patients and visitors alike and we are looking forward to its completion.

“We have many members who are looking forward to helping out, once the area is complete.

“It is also good that the project is being kept local with a local architect and landscape gardener contracted to do the work.”

However, Whissendine resident Josephine Dunn, who has been campaigning for more than two years for improvements to the grounds, said: “I will believe it when I see it.”

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