New sanctuary garden for bereaved visitors opens Charing Cross Hospital

A new sanctuary garden for those facing a bereavement has opened at Charing Cross Hospital.

Earlier this week, TV presenter and former patient Nicki Chapman joined other former patients and NHS staff at the hospital to open the garden, which has been designed as a quiet, calm and peaceful space for friends, family and visitors who have suffered a bereavement.

The garden will provide a tranquil outdoor space for anyone experiencing the grief and sadness of losing a loved one. Hospital staff will also be able to use the garden to take a quiet moment away from the wards and switch off from the pressures of work.

Nicki, who received treatment for a brain tumour at Charing Cross in 2019, visited the garden on Tuesday 6 June and planted a white Deutzia gracilis (Japanese Snow Flower) to mark the official opening.

“I will forever be indebted to the incredible team – in particular my surgeon, Mr David Peterson – who looked after me throughout an extremely challenging time,” Nicki said.

“I’m delighted to return to the hospital to open this beautiful new garden, which I’m sure will be of huge benefit to many more families in the future.”

Funded by Imperial Health Charity, the sanctuary garden is the latest in a series of improvements to green spaces at our hospitals. The charity also created a garden for dementia patients at Charing Cross to mark the hospital’s 200th anniversary in 2018 and refurbished a terrace next to the neonatal unit at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital earlier this year.

Creating warm and welcoming outdoor spaces like the Sanctuary Garden will also help to improve the care our specialist bereavement support teams can provide for friends and relatives who have suffered a loss.

“Working with Imperial Health Charity gives us the chance to unlock opportunities to provide even better care that would not otherwise be possible,” said Dr Bob Klaber OBE, Director of Strategy, Research and Innovation at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

“The garden is a fantastic example of that collaboration in practice and I know it will have an enormous impact in terms of the care our bereavement support team can provide for friends and relatives in the difficult moments after the loss of a loved one.”

The garden was designed by Dario Pizzi Design, with additional support from Gardencraft and Allgreen. It has transformed a previously neglected outdoor area, and will become a peaceful and reflective space for family members and friends to grieve privately following the loss of a loved one.

“We hope the garden will be a space of beauty that visitors will connect with memories of their loved ones,” said Dario Pizzi’s Beth Button. “Our hope is that we can bring some small comfort in the very darkest of moments.”

We are grateful to our many generous donors, including NHS Charities Together and the late Suzanne Pallaris. Without their support, the project would not have been possible.