Walsall’s Mayor has given her seal of approval to a charity appeal to raise around £20,000 to create a community garden for stroke rehabilitation patients.
Councillor Rose Martin was among around 30 guests at an open day launch yesterday to announce plans to transform the grounds at the Stroke Rehabilitation Unit at Hollybank House in Willenhall.
The appeal, which is being supported by Walsall Healthcare’s charity Well Wishers, aims to replace the current lawn with a potting area, pergola, coloured planters, a sensory spot and seating area for patients to not only enjoy but help create and maintain it, as well as their families and staff.
And thanks to local artist Jean Walker, attendees were able to see the potential end result for themselves as she unveiled a painting that captures the fundraising vision.
Attending the launch were representatives from local businesses, including Morrisons of Willenhall, CB Beauty Group in Rushall and the Wulfrun chapter of the Harley Davidson members group, as well as the Walsall branch of the NHS Retirement Fellowship.
The Mayor said: “This is a wonderful idea to create a really peaceful, scenic place for patients and staff for years to come.
“Most of my time as a councillor has been spent on the health and wellbeing of Walsall residents and what I love about this appeal is that it involves the whole community. It will also provide a lasting legacy for people to enjoy.”
Alison Stone, Walsall Healthcare Clinical Lead, said: “This is not just for patients but for families as well to spend time in the garden. Let’s get out of a hospital environment into a non-clinical environment to show them what a new normality can look like.
“The aim of a community garden is to have an impact on every aspect of therapy – physiotherapy, occupational therapy (OT), speech and language and psychology.
“We are extremely passionate about this project. There is life after stroke and the idea of creating the garden is to make rehab enjoyable, and encourage patients to be active engaged in their therapy which will aid a patient’s long-term recovery.”
Patient Richard Vodden, 61, from Darlaston had a stroke in June and has been in Hollybank for two weeks. A keen gardener, the semi-retired wine importer said: “Looking at the artist’s impression, the planned garden looks very good and very well laid out.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea to get patients involved because it will help their recovery.”
Fellow patient and keen gardener Chris Rounds, 59, from Leamore, has been at Hollybank for three weeks after suffering a stroke two months ago.
The retired leather worker said: “This will help patients get out into the fresh air as well as offer them a great view and something to be proud of and give them somewhere else to walk apart from the corridors. I’d love to see some geraniums for a nice bit of colour.”
Russell Caldicott, Chief Finance Officer at Walsall Healthcare and Trustee of Well Wishers, said: “I’d like to thank the Mayor for her support for this project, which will benefit our patients and staff enormously.
“We’re relaunching the appeal to try to get the extra funds so we can get that outdoor space exactly as patients would like it to be, to aid their recovery.
“I’m personally really happy that we’re doing something with the community and it’s a privilege for me to lend my support to it. Hopefully when we visit this time next year it will be complete.”
Laura Andrews, Morrisons Community Champion, actually lives on Coltham Road next to Hollybank House. Her father Terry suffered a stroke when he had cancer five years ago and she said: “There’s nowhere else like this near and it’s good for us as local residents and as a business to be able to support it, which we will do by raising money in store.
“I’m looking forward to the actual work too and getting my kids involved in the digging!”
Georgie Westley, Well Wishers Fundraising Manager, said: “I’m really excited to be part of this project that will hopefully bring the whole community together in support. The outcome will not only be an area that will benefit our patients but also somewhere for colleagues based at the centre to use.”
Hollybank House, is a 17-bedded inpatient unit with four wards. It has treated 314 stroke inpatients since it opened in 2020 and patients stay on average for six weeks.