Connecting with our community through gorgeous hospice grounds
Green-fingered gardener Mick Langtree is in charge of the grounds at St Catherine’s Hospice – and is dedicated to ensuring that the warm welcome which greets visitors on the inside is matched on the outside.
With the opening of The Mill café and community hub last year, the grounds have been named St Catherine’s Park – sending out a simple message of ‘welcome’ to local people.
With misconceptions about the hospice still abounding, opening up the area is designed to break down the barriers that can exist around St Catherine’s, and reassure people about the positive, peaceful environment that is created here.
Thanks to Mick and his dedicated band of volunteers, this warm and welcoming atmosphere greets visitors as soon as they step foot in the grounds.
Manicured lawns, a beautiful sensory garden and pristine flower beds are contrasted with a developing wetland, woodland and wildlife area where visitors can enjoy gentle strolls, as well as views along the River Lostock.
Mick, who first joined as a volunteer after 30 years as a craft gardener at Preston City Council, said the grounds were there for everyone to enjoy – from patients and their loved ones, to bereaved family members, volunteers, staff, customers of The Mill and other members of the public.
He said: “You often get patients having a walk around the gardens and we’ll often strike up a conversation.
“In the hospice, for the patients it can just be all about medicine and the walls of their room but the garden gives them a real escape from what they’re going through. It can be very therapeutic – especially in the sensory garden – and we hope they enjoy it. They often like to talk about the garden, and I tend to not discuss their illness unless they want to open up about it – we just talk about anything they like, it’s a time of normality for them.
“People who have lost someone at the hospice also come back to the grounds – it’s a peaceful place to remember their loved ones and to have space for some reflection.”
Recent developments at St Catherine’s Park include the opening of a new footbridge funded by Longridge and Preston North and Preston South Rotary Clubs, and the beginning of work on a new project in partnership with South Ribble Borough Council which will expand and connect the area with the council’s Dandy Brook park and a new World War One memorial.
Mick said: “We want to connect people to the hospice by welcoming them into the grounds through The Mill and this new extended park area, at the same time as making sure there’s privacy for the families and patients who are coming to the Hospice. This new initiative will hopefully do that, so it’s exciting times!”
Mick relies on a dedicated team of volunteers to ensure the grounds maintain their high standards, giving patients at St Catherine’s Hospice a wonderful view to wake up to every morning.
“Since I’ve started, the work-load has doubled, but so have the volunteers – they make it all possible,” he said.
“We get all sorts of people volunteering for us – it’s a really pleasant place for them to spend their time. They often come here because they’ve had family members who’ve passed away at St Catherine’s. Working here can help them feel they are still connected with their loved one.”
You can be connected to St Catherine’s in so many ways from working at the Hospice, to being a volunteer. Visit here, if you’d like to be a part of the St Catherine’s team.
You can also feel connected to your local charity for Hospice Care Week by donating £3 by texting ‘Hospice Care’ to 70444 – Thank you!
Texts cost £3 plus network charge. St Catherine’s Hospice receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer’s permission. Customer care 01772 629171 Charity No: 512186.
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