The Serenity Garden, located by the Penguin Foyer in the hospital, which was previously inaccessible to the public, has been transformed into a tranquil space.
The hospital’s chaplain, the Rev David Hill, and his wife Sandra commissioned the redesign and creation of the new garden in loving memory of their sons, Jason and Stuart, who lost their lives in a helicopter accident during an excursion to the Grand Canyon in 2018.
David said: “After the tragedy of losing both of our grown-up children, we became aware there were very few places for people in our hospital who have received bad news to sit and ‘be’ without attracting the attention of those nearby. We also wanted to have a place that commemorated Jason and Stuart’s rich lives.
“For years, I have walked past the Penguin Garden and we started to think about how we could combine our memories to make it a special place for peace and stillness while surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of nature. The idea of a Serenity Garden was born and we were thrilled when the hospital fully endorsed the idea.”
The outside area was officially opened by the chief executive of University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, Dame Marianne Griffiths, and chief nurse Dr Maggie Davies, last Wednesday. Dame Marianne described the garden as ‘a wonderful gift’ which would mean a lot to colleagues at the trust.
Garden designer Luc Harvengt, of Luc Gardens, worked on the brief with David and Sandra to create a ‘woodland experience’ with accessibility and privacy at the heart of the design concept, providing plenty of benches and ambient lighting nestled amongst newly added plants and trees.
Luc said: “We started with the circular seating area right in the middle of the garden which is surrounded by raised beds so that visitors can sit in peace. We planted beautiful tree ferns which are perfect for shady areas and I kept the floor all one level and colour to make it accessible to people with visual impairment and less disorienting for those with cognitive challenges.”
Plenty of room has been created for easy navigation around the garden, incorporating space for visitors with a pushchair or those requiring a wheelchair, use of crutches or a walking frame. The garden also has clever lighting which creates an atmospheric scene at night illuminating the trees and plants. Luc added: “We placed a globe light right in the middle of the garden which is on 24/7. It means even on the darkest days, there will always be a light shining.”
The beloved metal penguins, a familiar feature to hospital visitors who have called the outside space their home for many years, continue to inhabit the garden around the periphery.
David Clayton-Evans, head of charity for Love Your Hospital, the dedicated charity for Worthing and Southlands hospitals, and St Richard’s in Chichester, said: “This is such an incredible donation and this wonderful gift from David and Sandra has helped to create a lasting space where patients, families and our staff will have a meaningful and beautiful place to visit in the heart of our hospital.”
David Hill added: “Life is not always going to be easy and whether you’re a member of staff, a visitor or a patient feeling bruised by what life has thrown at you, we hope that this garden will make a small contribution to a person’s need for peace, serenity and respite.
“The Serenity Garden is now open for anyone and everyone and we are humbled to have been a part of providing this place. We hope it will become special to many people in the future.”