An inspirational talk – Crohn’s & Colitis Garden – a winner

In 2016, The Royal Horticultural Society revealed that people in their 30’s and 40’s were a ‘lost generation’ of gardeners – Baby Boomer parents hadn’t passed on the skills, and gardens were now be decked rather than nurtured. But as shadows lengthened over Chelsea last year, a solitary figure shimmered into view – with garden trowel in hand – and brought with them a devotion for the sheer joy and promise of gardening that is certain to bring inspiration to Generation X and Y.

Denise Shields has achieved something we had previously been unable to realise visually – the confusion, pain and loneliness of living with a
chronic condition but with a pleasing peek towards hope and a welcoming place to retreat.

The idea for the Crohn’s and Colitis UK charity garden was conceived by Denise in October 2015. The passionate amateur gardener has experienced, first-hand, the devastating effects of Crohn’s Disease. At the age of 13, Denise’s son was diagnosed with the disease, and in 2013 at the age of 23 he had a severe relapse of the condition which nearly cost him his life, changing his life forever.

Denise was inspired by the bravery and resilience shown by her son in the face of his debilitating disease, so she wanted to do something positive to help him and all those people who are affected by these dreadful conditions. The 77sq m garden was designed by Rory Tompsett and Peter Hulland working with Denise, to share the story of an individual’s emotional journey through illness and remission. The journey begins in Facing Fear, an uninviting place. The confusion, loneliness and turbulence an individual can suffer when their condition erupts are symbolised by a steet pergola, angular path and bubbling pool while the sensations of fear and pain are represented by the dark colour and texture of the planting. When exhaustion becomes overwhelming, the bespoke redwood chair provides a welcome place to retreat. Steps, drawing the visitor downward into Finding Hope represented by a bright sunken area, reflect the transition towards better health. This is a happy place, where improved well-being and confidence are illustrated by the attractive, colourful planting and gently flowing water, which raises the spirits. A formal hedge, denoting an inner boundary is a reminder that Crohn’s Disease has no known cure and those diagnosed have to learn to manage the disease. This ambiguity is emphasised by the specially commissioned stainless steel sculpture.

The Crohn’s Disease inspired garden called ‘Facing Fear: Finding Hope in support of Crohn’s and Colitis UK’ was on display at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Flower Show Tatton Park from 20-23 July 2017 and won both the Gold Award and the People’s Choice Award a credit and incredible achievement by the inspirational leader and her cohort of volunteers.

On behalf of Flint and Holywell Rotary Club members our thanks for your presentation at our Monday meeting – it’s message will not easily be forgotten.

Are there angels??

In your desperate plight
When the world has gone black,
And you scrabble to get a grip on your situation
And can’t get one…
You might pray for help
Even if God is an imaginary friend
And praying is reverting to a childlike state
You still might pray.
And here’s the thing,
God sends his angels.
They pick you up
They smile at you
They cry compassionate tears.
Some angels have familiar faces
And others are unknown
But the look in their eyes is the same.
If there are answers for you, they find them.
If there are none, they settle your mind
I pray that you find the kindness of strangers
And the kindness of friends.
You never see them coming,
You did not expect them.
They do not know they are angels
But God sends them anyway.

Steve Blakesley © January 2017 (Steve, our poet laureate, is a member of the Rotary Club of Flint & Holywell)

     President Neil Roberts & Denise Shields

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