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Legacy boost for stroke rehab garden project

2023-03-29T14:03:37+01:00Wednesday 29 March 2023|
  • John and Jean Wilson

A charity appeal to provide a community garden for stroke rehabilitation patients and their families has received a huge boost – thanks to the generosity of a former Walsall Manor Hospital patient.

John Wilson was admitted last May with heart problems that followed an earlier fall and died after a short stay, aged 94.

Family friend Lizi Bird is an Executor of his estate.

She explained that her mother Marion was best friends with John’s wife Jean and that Marion, formerly known as Sister Cooper, had worked at the hospital since the 1950s until the mid 1990s.

“John’s wishes were for his estate to be split between the Manor Hospital, Cancer Research, the British Heart Foundation and the RNLI,” she said.

“This has resulted in £90,144.02 being donated to Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and when I was speaking to the Fundraising Manager Georgie she told me about the appeal for the stroke garden and I think this is a fitting use of John’s estate. I have asked that a bench could be put in the garden in memory of John and Jean too and think that is also a nice touch.”

The couple, who lived in Pelsall, were married later in life, as John had been caring for his mother. John had worked as a wages clerk in engineering while Jean worked as Records Supervisor in Walsall Council’s Social Services.

Lizi added: “They were a couple who loved being in each other’s company and were happy just spending time together at home. Jean was a churchgoer and John had been a keen tennis player in his time.

“Jean developed dementia and died in 2016, aged 89, leaving John on his own.

“I used to enjoy talking to John – he had a really dry sense of humour and always gave sound advice. They were a lovely couple who didn’t get together until later in their lives but enjoyed their final years together.

“I hope the patients and visitors who use the stroke garden will get a lot of enjoyment out it and am pleased to see John’s legacy used in this way.”

The community stroke rehabilitation garden appeal, at Hollybank House in Willenhall, was started by Walsall Healthcare’s Well Wishers charity before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plans will see the current lawn replaced with a potting area, pergola, coloured planters, a sensory spot and seating area for patients, their families and staff to not only enjoy the garden but help create and maintain it.

Georgie Westley, Fundraising Manager, said: “It felt as though Lizi was our fairy godmother when she got in touch to tell us about Mr Wilson’s legacy.

“This is fantastic news as it means work can start shortly. We had raised around £11,000 so far and weren’t expecting such a big boost to come our way so this has put us on cloud nine.

“Legacies make such a significant difference to our fundraising efforts and we thank all the families and friends who have supported the charity in this way over the past couple of years.”

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