A THERAPEUTIC garden at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital was heralded as ‘outstanding’ by judges after it received a Gold award in prestigious awards.

The Orchard Garden, funded by donations to Bournemouth Hospital Charity, was awarded the highest honour at the South & South East in Bloom 2017 annual ceremony in Gatwick after it had been nominated for the awards by Bournemouth in Bloom.

South & South East in Bloom judge Ruth Growney, who visited the hospital, said: “I am thrilled to award Gold to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s Orchard Garden,” said Ruth. “The Orchard Garden is an outstanding example that is made even more extraordinary as it is a first time entry. It's incredibly rare for this to happen, but so well deserved.”

The Orchard Garden has transformed the previously unused and unattractive courtyard in between the Hospital’s Jigsaw Building and Pathology Department into a tranquil area of relaxation and beauty for patients, visitors and staff to enjoy.

The area now features a therapeutic courtyard garden linked by a sensory orchard walkway to the hospital lake, where a fully accessible wooden deck offers an area of peaceful retreat overlooking the water.

Haematology consultant Dr Helen McCarthy, who originally envisioned the concept of the project, said: "I strongly believe in the healing power of gardens and I’m grateful to those who supported my vision of creating this small oasis in the grounds of a hospital.

“I would like to thank all of our patients, their families and our staff for their passion in fundraising to make this possible. Much emotion has been invested in this lovely garden for cancer patients to enjoy.”

The garden was significantly supported by Dorset Cancer Care Foundation – who administered a legacy from the late Betty Hyams – as well as the Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ programme that contributed £12,000 after local Tesco shoppers voted to back the project at the checkouts.

More than £35,000 of the total was donated in-memory of former patients who were never able to enjoy the benefits of the Orchard Garden but who received treatment during its construction.