After generous donations from the public, the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is very pleased to be opening a new memorial garden at the RD&E (Wonford) to serve as a place to remember those lost to COVID-19.
Dr Camilla Stokholm was a GP trainee at the RD&E during the first two waves of the pandemic and spent a lot of time working on the COVID-19 wards.
Camilla said: “During the first wave of COVID-19, we received quite a lot of care packages from our local community to show support. During the second wave, I wanted to keep this support going and help boost morale by raising some money to buy and hand-deliver care packages to colleagues myself.
“I’d initially planned to raise £500 to fund this, but to my huge surprise, I received almost £16,000 in public donations, which was incredible, and even received a wonderful additional donation from the RD&E Hospital Charity.”
This incredible amount of money meant Camilla could spend some on COVID-19 patients as well as care packages for colleagues. This included buying new equipment so they could video call their loved ones.
Camilla decided to invest the remaining money into a permanent fixture at the hospital: a memorial garden.
After two years of planning, the memorial garden will officially be opening on Saturday 19 August.
The garden has been built behind Ashburn Ward, which was one of the hospital’s main COVID-19 wards, and was where Camilla was based for six months during the pandemic.
Ashburn Ward is also one of the main dementia wards, so the garden will double as a dementia therapy garden, where patients will be able to do light gardening to boost their mobility and mood. It has also been designed with easy access for bedbound patients, so end-of-life patients can use the space as well.
Camilla said: “It's almost impossible not to fall in love with dementia patients when you work closely with them, which is why I decided to use the memorial garden for two purposes: a place to remember those lost to COVID-19, whilst also cherishing those who can no longer remember.”
The Forget-Me-Not Garden, named for the blue flower that is the symbol of dementia, will have a team of hospital volunteers to help support the dementia patients with their garden therapy and also maintain its general upkeep.
Camilla said: “I’d like to thank the amazing generosity of everyone who donated, and to everyone at the Trust who has helped make this garden a reality. It feels like a dream come true for it to be opening and I really hope this garden will provide a quiet place for people to reflect, as well as help our dementia patients with their quality of life during hospital stays.”
If you would like to commemorate a loved one lost to COVID-19 with a donated plant or plaque in the garden, then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange this.
If you would like to donate to the garden’s upkeep, please visit rdecharity.enthuse.com/donate and state the donation is for 'covid morale' fund number 0026.
The Royal Devon also has a memorial garden at North Devon District Hospital, across from the main entrance. It was opened around 15 years ago and provides a private area for visitors and staff to take a quiet moment away from the busy hospital environment.
The garden includes benches and a memorial sun dial, along with established bushes and plants, including a striking clematis, and an impressive monkey puzzle tree, which was planted when the garden first opened.
Last updated: July 24, 2023