Magical fairy garden for young visitors to Doncaster hospice

A new fairy garden at Doncaster’s St John’s Hospice is a magical distraction for young visitors going through an upsetting time in their lives.

Saturday, 10th July 2021, 12:40 pm

Hospice Nursing Assistant Michelle Hannan came up with the idea of creating the imaginative escape for children to explore while they are visiting terminally ill inpatient relatives.

Michelle, from Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I used to work at a nursery and love being outdoors. I wanted to introduce something that would take the children’s minds off what is happening around them for a while to let their imagination run wild.

"They are visiting people who are very poorly, so the aim of the garden is to try and create a happy experience for them.”

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In the Fairy Garden at St John's Hospice: Hospice Nursing Assistant Michelle Hannan, is pictured with some of the garden’s attractions and L-R Grounds and Gardens Supervisor Alan Pakeman, Rachel Horne and Linda Rowe.

Hospice Arts and Crafts Therapist Rachel Horne put her creative skills to use, sketching a design after consulting with patients and staff and then coordinating the various activities.

She created tiny ladders from twigs and added fairy-size doors and other items for the youngsters to look for as they walk along the fairy garden path.

Complementary Therapist Linda Rowe chipped in as well, taking items home to paint and restore to keep the costs down.

Rachel said: “It has been a real collective response, with patients on the ward making mushrooms and the Trust’s Estates Department helping out with the design by supplying a big batch of pebbles. Because of Covid I have been running online art sessions on WhatsApp for our patients who would normally attend the Day Hospital and they have also been making little bits of fairy life.

“The children start by opening a treasure chest containing a quiz on a scroll tied with a green ribbon and they have to look for lots of different items, including sleeping fairies, to get them really excited. We will keep adding to the garden as we come up with more ideas and the plan is to give each child who explores the garden a tiny fairy door to take away with them as a keepsake.

“Because items have been made and donated by staff, patients and well-wishers the cost of developing it has been less than £30 so far. We have utilised all kinds of everyday items Blue Peter style to create the various features.”